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Premier says he won’t back down after Nova Scotia Power downgrades credit rating

Premier says he won’t back down after Nova Scotia Power downgrades credit rating

Premier Tim Houston says his government won’t back down on its decision to cut electricity prices in the wake of Nova Scotia Power’s credit downgrade.

Major trading firm, Emera, warned that a weaker credit rating would increase the costs of borrowing money. Ultimately, this can result in higher prices for customers.

Ratings agency S&P Global announced the downgrade on Monday, citing the province’s move to limit power rate increases to 1.8 percent this year and next.

The agency said the limit would increase the service’s business risks.

Houston dismissed such concerns.

“I’m not responsible for managing their relationships with their stakeholders,” he said. “They can do that. They’re well-paid executives, they have a lot of stakeholders and they should manage those relationships.”

The premier said Nova Scotia introduced the cap to protect people from high service rates. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Houston said the province imposed the cap to protect people from “extremely high utility rates.”

Earlier this year, the company asked for a rate hike of nearly 14 percent over two years.

“Nova Scotia Power and Emera have gone to great lengths to scare people into trying to get the government to back down and I’ll be very clear that we’re not going to back down,” Houston said. “My only duty is to the ratepayers of the province.”

“It will cost us more”

However, opposition politicians say the fact that Nova Scotia Power now has the lowest investment grade rating in North America is a concern for ratepayers.

“Once again the Houston government didn’t do their homework,” said Kelly Regan, Liberal MLA for Bedford-Birch Cove. “We really would have preferred to have sat down with Nova Scotia Power.”

New Democratic Party Leader Claudia Chender says her party’s ideas to change the way Nova Scotia Power operates have been shelved.

“Our electricity bills are still going to go up because Nova Scotia Power has a lot of cost overruns,” Chender said. “If it costs the company more, it will cost us more.”

Houston said his government is standing by ratepayers and has made sure that a double-digit power rate increase won’t happen in the next two years.

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