Nova Scotia Power will almost certainly miss its renewable energy targets, but Premier Darrell Dexter won’t say whether the company will be fined.

In an attempt to wean the utility off coal, NSP can be subject to fines if it doesn’t hit benchmarks between now and 2015, the first of which is to generate five per cent of its energy from renewable sources in 2010.

That seems unlikely after the Utility and Review Board ruled this week it didn’t have the authority to approve an NSP plan to get fuel from biomass. The ruling doesn’t prohibit the plan, but NSP had said it won’t go ahead without explicit approval.

 

Yesterday the premier said he wouldn’t speculate on whether the government would fine NSP, instead saying he was focused on working together.

“To set this all up so that it becomes a conflict between the government and the monopoly power provider is not what we want to try and achieve,” Dexter said.

There is a loophole that could let NSP off the hook. A clause in the rules states the company can be exempted from fines if they’ve showed due diligence in trying to meet the targets. A department official will make that decision.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said charging NSP will hurt customers, not company shareholders.

“Fines are going to be a cost of doing business, which means it’s going back to the rate base. The company will be asking the rate payers to pay for it,” he said.

Instead he recommends opening the grid to independent power producers and allowing them to sell directly to customers and compete against NSP.