HALIFAX – Premier Darrell Dexter is brushing off criticism from Nova Scotia’s consumer advocate that an electricity rate agreement for the idle NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill could end up costing power customers.
John Merrick said Monday that there’s no guarantee power bills won’t rise in the deal between Nova Scotia Power and the mill’s prospective buyer, Pacific West Commercial Corp.
The agreement, approved Monday by Nova Scotia’s Utility and Review Board, says power customers can’t be expected to cover the cost of running a biomass plant at the site.
That would change, however, if the government deems the plant a “must-run facility” — which Dexter says needs to happen.
But Merrick said he’s worried the government is pandering to Pacific West on the backs of power customers.
Dexter says Merrick’s comments are “wrong” and “unfortunate,” adding that the biomass facility is necessary to run the mill.
The premier is also defending a $124.5-million financial package aimed at helping resume operations at the mill, saying the benefits of that far outweigh the costs of allowing the site to remain closed.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said a $124.5 million financial package was for Pacific West Commercial.