Premier Tim Houston said his government will not back down after a decision to cap electricity prices led Nova Scotia Power to have its credit rating downgraded.
The utility's parent company, Emera, warned a weaker credit rating will lead to increased costs to borrow money. It said that could ultimately result in higher prices for customers.
Rating agency S&P Global announced the downgrade on Monday, citing the province's move to limit power-rate increases to 1.8 per cent this year and next.
The agency said the cap will increase the utility's business risks.
Houston shrugged off such concerns.
"I'm not in the business of managing their relationships with their stakeholders," he said. "They can do that. They are highly paid executives, they have a lot of stakeholders and they should manage those relationships."
Houston said the province imposed the cap to protect people from "very high utility rates."
Earlier this year, the company had applied for a nearly 14 per cent rate hike over two years.
"There is a very concerted effort by Nova Scotia Power and Emera to frighten people to try to get the government to back down and I will be very clear we are not backing down on this," Houston said. "My only obligation is to the ratepayers of the province."
'It's going to cost us more'
However, opposition politicians said the fact Nova Scotia Power now has the lowest corporate investment grade in North America is a concern for ratepayers.
"Once again the Houston government didn't do their homework," said Kelly Regan, Liberal MLA for Bedford-Birch Cove. "We really would have preferred they would have sat down with Nova Scotia Power."
New Democratic Party Leader Claudia Chender said ideas her party has presented to change the way Nova Scotia Power operates have been ignored.
"Our power bills are still going to skyrocket because Nova Scotia Power passes through a lot of their costs," Chender said. "If it costs the company more, it's going to cost us more."
Houston said his government is simply standing with ratepayers and has made sure a double-digit power rate increase will not happen for the next two years.
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