Legal Alert: NS Government Proposes a Game Changer in NS Power Market
December 2, 2013
By Michael Simms, at McInnes Cooper
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Note: On December 12, 2013 the NS Government passed Bill No. 1 (the Electricity Reform Act). It will come into force on the date it is proclaimed. On January 16, 2014 the NS Government announced it would begin an Electricity Review Process. Click here to read McInnes Cooper’s January 20, 2014 Legal Alert: Game On – NS Electricity Review Begins.
On November 29, 2013 the new Nova Scotia Liberal Government proposed its first Bill – one that could fundamentally change the game in the NS electricity sector. The Bill, if passed into law, will end the monopoly of Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) and the municipal electric utilities over the retail electricity market in NS and open it to limited competition – allowing licensed suppliers to sell renewable low-impact electricity directly to end-users:
Renewable Energy. Bill No. 1(the Electricity Reform Act) proposes amendments to the NS Electricity Act respecting the sale of renewable low-impact electricity. The Renewable Electricity Regulations made under the Electricity Act define “renewable low-impact electricity” to mean electricity produced from: solar energy; wind energy; run-of-river hydro; ocean powered energy; tidal energy; wave energy; sustainably harvested biomass; landfill gas; and any other resource that, in the opinion of the Minister of Energy, is able to be replenished through natural processes or through sustainable management practices.
Sale of Renewable Low-Impact Electricity. The Bill will permit licensed “retail suppliers” to sell renewable low-impact electricity generated within NS directly to “retail customers” within NS.
Retail Suppliers and Customers. The Bill will:
- define a “retail supplier” as a person (other than NSPI and the municipal electric utilities) who is authorized to sell low-impact renewable electricity to “retail customers”;
- exclude “retail suppliers” from the application of the NS Public Utilities Act unless the Public Utilities Act regulations deem it to apply to the particular retail supplier; and
- define a “retail customer” as a person who uses, for its own consumption within NS, electricity that the person did not generate.
NSPI’s Role. NSPI will be required to:
- develop, in consultation with stakeholders, and file with the NS Utility and Review Board (NSUARB), for approval, any new or amended tariffs, procedures and standards of conduct necessary to facilitate the sale of renewable low-impact electricity by retail suppliers; and
- not refuse to provide service to a retail customer on the basis that the customer purchases renewable low-impact electricity from a retail supplier.
NSUARB’s Role. The NSUARB will be empowered to:
- implement the new regime;
- deal with the licensing of retail suppliers; and
- approve tariffs, procedures and standards of conduct required to facilitate the sale of renewable low-impact electricity by retail suppliers, bearing in mind certain principles set out in the Bill.
Next Steps. The Bill requires the NS Government to complete public consultations within 12 months of the date the Bill becomes law and to table a report respecting it to the NS Legislature.
ETA 2015. Bill No. 1 only comes into force on the date it is proclaimed. However, the NS Government says its target for the deregulation of the NS renewable electricity market to take effect is 2015.
Click here to go to the NS Laws website, including current statutes and Bills of the NS House of Assembly.
Watch for updates on this legislative development from McInnes Cooper’s Renewable Energy Team.
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of our McInnes Cooper Renewable Energy Team to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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