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Lunenburg to hear options for electric utility at upcoming council meeting

By Evan Taylor Apr 20, 2023 | 1:55 PM

Wee Keat Chin / CC

At the next Lunenburg council meeting a report looking at the options the town has for its electric utility will be presented.

As one of just a handful of Nova Scotian communities that operates it’s own electric utility, the town is considering if they should continue operating the utility or sell it to another party willing to operate it.

The report set to be presented at the April 25 council meeting was prepared by BDR Consulting and CIMA+ Engineering.

In total the report is 97 pages long and includes very detailed information, culminating in a recommendation of three ways the town can proceed.

The first two options for the town involve keeping the utility – one in which they would hire their own staff to service the utility, and the other option is to pursue a contract with Nova Scotia Power to service it.

Nova Scotia Power has serviced the town’s utility in recent years, and although the report noted that NSP’s service was satisfactory it also reports that there have been instances where service orders are not completed within NSP’s own service times.

Alternatively, the town could explore hiring and operating the utility by themselves. This too comes with challenges primarily staffing and the lack of certainty over costs that comes from working with a larger utility like NSP. In the full report a table was provided breaking down the benefits and concerns with each option.

A comparison of what operating Lunenburg’s electric utility with NSP staff or the town’s own staff would mean. Photo: Town of Lunenburg.

The third and most drastic of the options presented is for the town to sell the utility outright. Much more is unknown about how this option would play out as offers would need to be made, and considerations of what level of service would be provided would be negotiated as any offers materialize.

It also takes the decision-making power on utility-related issues out of the town’s hands leaving them susceptible to whoever purchases it.

On a positive note in regards to selling the utility, it absolves the town of any unforeseen costs the utility may need to undertake in the future as it would become the responsibility of the new owner.

A comparison of what retaining or selling Lunenburg’s electric utility would mean. Photo: Town of Lunenburg.

Perhaps the most important consideration in all of the options presented is in regards to power rates. While operating the utility themselves (with service provided by NSP) rates in Lunenburg have remained lower that that of NSP customers elsewhere in the province. The report finds that the town would likely be able to keep rates below NSP’s for the immediate future, but should the town look to need to make significant capital investments in the utility it is possible they will increase to equal or above NSP rates.


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