As hearings begin today into Nova Scotia Power Inc.’s plan to charge its customers to conserve energy, previously adversarial stakeholders appear united on at least one front. The sooner the utility can launch the demand-side management program, the better.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hearings will focus on a settlement signed by nine parties, including NSPI, environmentalists, large industrial users and the consumer advocate.
The settlement acknowledges the need to launch demand-side management (DSM) quickly, but directs the board to find a third party to administer the program by 2010.
Brendan Haley of the Ecology Action Centre says the message is clear.
“The sooner we can actually start running (demand-side management programs), the sooner we can start accumulating energy savings,” Haley said.
The program’s annual budget is about $13 million for 2008 and 2009.
It’s estimated that without DSM, taxpayers will have to cover the cost of a new $1-billion power plant by 2016.
When NSPI appeared before the board in January, outside parties argued it would be a conflict of interest for the utility to administer the program.
To address these concerns, Conserve Nova Scotia hired David Wheeler, dean of management at Dalhousie University. Wheeler recommended Friday that the board select an independent administrator.
As the board is not currently authorized to look outside of NSPI, following this recommendation would require a change in legislation.