22 MAY 2013
Bill 39, the proposed new Electricity Act, was debated yesterday in the Legislature during second reading. The Green Party says the debate overlooked the key problem with Bill 39. It fails to keep the politics out of NB Power.
"Energy Minister Craig Leonard claims that Bill 39 will ensure that NB Power will operate like a business, free from political interference, but nothing could be further from the truth," said Green party leader David Coon. "The dirty little secret is that Cabinet will still be in the driver's seat when it comes to determining the most important costs associated with running the electrical utility, and the costs determine the price of electricity," said Coon.
Unlike provinces such as Nova Scotia, Bill 39 requires NB Power to have its business plan, the Integrated Resource Plan, reviewed and approved by the provincial cabinet every three years rather than by the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB). Furthermore, while proposals for costly refurbishments or new power plants will be reviewed by the EUB, Cabinet retains the authority to make the final decision.
"Bill 39 gives Cabinet a direct role in approving NB Power expenditures, which determine the price the utility must charge for its electricity," said Coon. "Bill 39 keeps the politics in NB Power which is why the Green Party has been demanding it be sent to committee for public hearings," said the Green Party leader.