Nova Scotia Power responds to critics of confidentiality claims in rate hike case

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As it seeks a rate hike, Nova Scotia Power is claiming that some of its information, including about executive pay, should be kept confidential. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
As it seeks a rate hike, Nova Scotia Power is claiming that some of its information, including about executive pay, should be kept confidential. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia Power is fighting to keep studies on executive pay confidential during proceedings on its application to hike electricity rates by 10 per cent.

On Friday, the utility said two studies by Mercer Consulting on executive compensation paid to NSP executives should remain confidential despite objections from intervenors in the rate case, which include the Province of Nova Scotia.

NSP lawyer Blake Williams asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to dismiss the objections.

He said the company is willing to release "the market comparable aggregate amount of total direct compensation that is included in the Mercer Reports to demonstrate that the compensation included in the General Rate Application is below market."

The rest of the reports are irrelevant, he said, since legislation limits the portion of NSP executive compensation recovered from ratepayers to the level of provincial deputy ministers.

"NS Power is no longer permitted to seek full recovery of its executive compensation expenses and there remains no rationale or justification to disclose information pertaining to amounts over the Government Pay Plan Cap. If NS Power were seeking to recover the full amount of executive compensation then it would disclose the full amount, just as it did prior to the introduction of the Government Pay Plan Cap," Williams wrote.

Where NSP has dropped confidentiality claims

The company did withdraw many of its confidentiality claims after they were opposed by lawyer Nancy Rubin on behalf of the Industrial Group, representing NSP's largest customers and Dalhousie University.

NSP said it is now willing to release information on bonuses, its government lobbying activity, public information in a tax dispute with the Canada Revenue Agency and the identity of Shell as the supplier of natural gas in a long-expired contract.

The company said it will disclose details related to an incident at the Trenton 5 generating station once claims are settled.

Losses related to a transformer failure at the Point Tupper generating station and ice damage at the Nuttby wind farm are still subject to ongoing negotiations, it said.

"NS Power is committed to serving Nova Scotians in a transparent manner," Williams wrote.

Intervenors have until June 7 to respond.

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