Nova Scotia can't order electric utility to lower power rates, minister says

NS Power

Nova Scotia's energy minister says he can't ask Nova Scotia Power to lower its rates to ease the financial pressure on out-of-work residents because the government simply doesn't have the authority to take that kind of action.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting Thursday, Derek Mombourquette said he is in ``constant contact'' with the privately owned utility.

But when asked if the Liberal government would order the utility to lower electricity rates as households and businesses struggle with the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mombourquette said there was nothing he could do.

He said Nova Scotia Power is an independent entity that is subject to regulation by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

However, the minister noted that the utility, owned by Emera Inc., has suspended disconnections for bill non-payment for at least 90 days.

It has also relaxed payment timelines and waived penalties and fees.