New performance standard for Nova Scotia Power aimed at preserving electricity for large companies

The new performance standard requires Nova Scotia Power to resolve concerns from large industrial customers about brief service interuptions within 18 months of receiving a complaint. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The new performance standard requires Nova Scotia Power to resolve concerns from large industrial customers about brief service interuptions within 18 months of receiving a complaint. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government released a new performance standard for Nova Scotia Power on Tuesday aimed at preventing financial losses large industrial customers experience from brief power interruptions.

"In your home, you may have a quick interruption of power that resets the clock on your microwave but your power doesn't go out," Natural Resources and Renewables Department spokesperson Patricia Jreige said in an email.

"That's inconsequential in your home, but when a small interruption affects a critical piece of equipment in an industrial operation, it's a loss [of] thousands of dollars each time. Companies have reported millions of dollars of loss annually because of the small power interruptions we're talking about."

The new regulations stem from amendments to the Public Utilities Act the government passed last spring to allow for the creation of new performance standards.

Failure to act would lead to fines

The measure announced Tuesday will require Nova Scotia Power to "deliver stable voltage to a transmission customer under standard operating conditions and during any transient disruptions," and to address service complaints from large industrial customers within 18 months when that does not happen.

The company can complain to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board if Nova Scotia Power does not act within the prescribed time frame. The UARB will have the ability to fine Nova Scotia Power $25,000 a month until the issue is resolved. Companies covered by the new regulations include LaFarge, Port Hawkesbury Paper, Michelin, Highliner Foods and Compass Minerals.

The timeline for Nova Scotia Power to act would begin when a customer brings concerns to the utility, Jreige said in the email.

A good step

Bevan Lock, mill co-manager at Port Hawkesbury Paper, said the company was not one of the ones to raise concerns with the government, although he welcomed the step.

"I do applaud the government in terms of the timely followup," he said in an interview.

"Having some time-bound things on issues such as this, I think, is really positive."

Lock said Port Hawkesbury Paper has had "very few, if any" power quality issues.

"To give kudos to the utility, from a Port Hawkesbury-specific case, if and when we have had any issues like that they have been dealt with in a good way."

Expenses can be passed on

Addressing concerns could require Nova Scotia Power to invest in industrial-scale batteries and other equipment to improve grid resilience, she said.

"They may choose to move to a higher voltage transmission line for some companies, or additional electrical equipment to reduce interruptions."

Nova Scotia Power would not be required to absorb the cost of that work.

According to the regulations, "any expenses reasonably incurred" by Nova Scotia Power to come into compliance with the performance standard "will be allocated across all customer classes as a transmission network resource."

MORE TOP STORIES