POLITICS

Some facts on electricity issue in Nova Scotia election campaign

09/15/2013 05:00 EDT | Updated 11/14/2013 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - The campaign for the Oct. 8 provincial election is expected to focus on energy policy, particularly the rising cost of electricity. Here's a look at some of the key promises from the three main parties:

Muskrat Falls hydroelectric link

NDP: The party believes importing hydroelectric power from the Muskrat Falls dam in Labrador will give the province a new source of renewable energy that will stabilize rates as the province shuts down its coal-fired power plants. .

Liberals: They aren't opposed to the project, but they say the deal is flawed because Nova Scotians still don't know how much they will be paying for the electricity from Labrador.

Progressive Conservatives: The Tories also support the project, but they are concerned about who will own the undersea transmission lines once the $1.5-billion project is paid for.

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Nova Scotia Power

Liberals: They want to "break the monopoly" held by the province's privately owned utility. However, they say that doesn't mean splitting up the company into smaller units, but instead it means changing the rules to make it easier for renewable energy suppliers to compete.

NDP: The party has made the Liberal proposal the focus of attack ads, including one that suggests the Liberals would rather see the province buying hydroelectric power from Quebec instead of an Atlantic partner — a claim the Liberals have denied.

Progressive Conservatives: They say the Liberal plan has already been tried in New Brunswick, where it proved to be a failure.

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Five-year rate freeze

Progressive Conservatives: The Tories are promising to impose a five-year freeze on electricity rates. The Conservatives say this can partly be accomplished by delaying the province's existing renewable energy targets by five years.

Liberals: They say the Conservatives are ignoring the fact that a rate freeze would prompt Nova Scotia Power to defer expenses for five years, which would lead to a spike in power rates when the freeze ended.

NDP: The problem with a rate freeze, the NDP says, is that it ignores the fact that fossil fuel prices will continue to increase, driving up the utility's costs.

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Aggressive renewable energy targets

NDP: In 2010, the New Democrats committed the province to getting 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020 — a four-fold increase.

Progressive Conservatives: They say the NDP's rush to transform the province into a green energy leader is the main reason why electricity rates have shot up.

Liberals: The Liberals say they would stick with the NDP's green energy conversion plan.