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Paul Martin is the auditor general for New Brunswick. Image: Submitted/Auditor General of New Brunswick

Auditor general worried about NB Power’s ability to self-sustain

By Brad Perry Dec 15, 2023 | 2:01 PM

New Brunswick’s auditor general says he is concerned about NB Power’s ability to self-sustain its operations.

Paul Martin said in his latest report that the utility has more than $5 billion in debt, and its debt-to-equity ratio has worsened.

The utility is required to meet a provincially-mandated 80 per cent debt-to-equity ratio by March of 2029.

Instead, Martin said the ratio has deteriorated to 94 per cent from 87 per cent in the prior year.

“We are uncertain how NB Power will continue to manage its debt without imposing significant rate increases, receiving funding from the province, or significantly reducing its expenditures,” Martin said on Thursday.

The auditor general’s latest report came one day before NB Power announced it was seeking 9.8 per cent rate increases in each of the next two years.

Martin said the utility recorded a net loss for six of the past seven years, including a $43 million loss for the fiscal year end of 2023.

“NB Power has a recent history of not being profitable and faces future capital investments for items such as Mactaquac refurbishment and decommissioning Belledune,” he said.

The Mactaquac refurbishment alone is expected to cost the utility more than $3 million, according to Martin.

Martin said his office will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates over the coming years.