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Balancing Affordability and the Environment Oped

first_imgGovernment is committed to making life better for families in every region of Nova Scotia by balancing affordability and environmental sustainability. That is why when Nova Scotia Power told stakeholders that it intended to seek a 12 per cent increase for residential and an 18 per cent increase for commercial users, our government took notice. Rate increases of that size would have had a significant impact on Nova Scotia families, not to mention negatively affect the competitiveness of Nova Scotia businesses. Nova Scotia has been dependent on fossil fuels for far too long. That reality is hitting customers square in the face in the form of steep power bill increases. Those increases come directly from the cost of carbon — both the cost to buy it on the foreign market and the cost to reduce its environmental impact. Those costs hurt Nova Scotians. They impact all of us, and in the worst cases, force people to have to make tough decisions between feeding their families or heating their homes. Let’s not forget that government eliminated the HST from basic home electricity. And we once again acted decisively to protect Nova Scotia families and business from this big proposed rate increase. Since the announcement of the projected rate increases, I have met with representatives from big businesses and small ones, consumer groups, charities, and others that would be affected by a rate increase. They all said the same thing. A rate hike of this magnitude would be devastating and could mean everything from higher prices to job loss. Government understands the need to help businesses stay competitive in these difficult times. Providing affordable and predictable power rates is something we have done to do just that. Governing is about making the right decisions. The decision to amend air-quality regulations is a pragmatic solution that will protect Nova Scotians’ pocketbooks, while holding Nova Scotia Power accountable. The power utility has agreed to look at changing their technology in order to reduce costs, make electricity more affordable and ensure the province not only meets its mercury emission targets, but is better off in the long run. This was a tough decision, but it is the right decision. That is genuine leadership. But we’re not done yet. We will continue to work to reduce Nova Scotia’s reliance on carbon. Already government has introduced some of the most aggressive renewable electricity targets in North America. To achieve those goals, Nova Scotia will have to use cleaner, local sources for power. In fact, new wind farms are being built as we speak. Just last week, Premier Darrell Dexter announced, in partnership with the government of New Brunswick, the possibility of a new transmission line between our two provinces. This line would provide tremendous opportunity for Nova Scotia to grow its renewable energy sector, strengthen the province’s regional electricity distribution network and ultimately provide greater stability and affordability for Nova Scotia families. It was necessary for government to act quickly to address the potential power rate increase in this province. I am pleased to say that this decision will ensure that our targets for removing mercury from our environment will still be met. In fact, they will now go even further than originally planned. This government has struck the balance between affordability and environmental sustainability that Nova Scotians want, and need. -30-last_img read more

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