POLITICS

Nova Scotia's incoming Opposition leader casts doubt on Liberal plan for energy

10/09/2013 01:56 EDT | Updated 12/09/2013 05:12 EST
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative Leader says he doubts a plan by the incoming Liberal government to relieve customers of high energy bills will work.

Jamie Baillie said Wednesday he will use his new status as leader of the official Opposition to highlight what he says are the faults with premier-designate Stephen McNeil's power policies.

McNeil is promising to shift the $46-million annual cost of funding programs run by Efficiency Nova Scotia from customers to Nova Scotia Power. Efficiency Nova Scotia is a non-profit organization created to help people reduce their energy use.

Its programs range from education and technical assistance to incentives on energy efficient products and upgrades.

Baillie said shifting the cost of funding Efficiency Nova Scotia's services to Nova Scotia Power is likely not doable and he doesn't believe it will result in lower energy costs.

"I'll be very interested to see how they're going to do things like charge the Efficiency Nova Scotia fee without having that recovered through higher rates," he said.

"It's an impossibility. It's a house of cards they've built on power."

Andrew Younger, a re-elected Liberal member of the legislature, said Baillie's opinion is unfounded.

"For him to say it's impossible, it's bizarre really," he said.

Younger said the fee is unfair because low-income households pay it even if they can't afford to take advantage of Efficiency Nova Scotia's programs.

"At the end of the day, we think Nova Scotia Power should be paying for it from their profits, but the details will be laid out in the legislation," he said.

Baillie also said he's eager to begin his role as Opposition leader, and he's already questioning whether the Liberal majority is committed to balancing the books or providing tax relief.

"I want to give them a chance because I want Nova Scotia to succeed," he said.

"However, I am concerned that they are not committed to balancing the budget, although that's needed. They're not committed to tax relief, although that's needed."

Baillie's party won 11 seats, up by four from its previous standing, while the Liberals took 33 seats and the NDP were reduced to third-party status with seven seats.

NDP Leader Darrell Dexter, who lost his seat in the election, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. He said Tuesday night he will meet with the party executive about his future as party leader.