Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Saint John Board of Trade has identified Six Recommendations regarding the proposed sale of NB Power

The Saint John Board of Trade has identified six recommendations which it would like to see incorporated into the final agreement concerning the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec. “We feel these additions will ensure that full advantage is taken of the opportunity to maintain existing businesses and jobs and to promote future economic growth and development in our Province” said Kathryn Craig, Chair of the Saint John Board of Trade.

The Saint John Board of Trade has reviewed and analyzed the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro Quebec outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec on October 29, 2009. Due to the complexity of this issue, an ad-hoc Task Force comprised of members of the Board of Directors representing small, medium and large sized businesses was created to diligently examine the issue and meet with subject matter experts prior to making a recommendation to the Board.

1) Heritage Pool Supply. The size of the Heritage Pool Supply (HPS) needs to be increased. For example, the allocation currently included in the MOU for the Industrial HPS (4.5TWh) does not provide sufficient capacity to drive future economic growth and development. Proper analysis needs to be conducted to determine the appropriate size of the Heritage Pool Supply. Having a more predictable rate would allow industry to plan future projects more accurately than if the rate was to go to market each year because the Industrial HPS was surpassed.
2) Rate Increases after Five Years. The rate increase formula after five years (i.e. NB Consumer Price Index) needs to be modified. We recommend that the formula for rate increases for all customers after the initial five year period be the lesser of NB CPI or the percent rate change approved in Quebec for the same period and customer class.
3) New Brunswick Supply Chain. We recognize the importance of NB Power to many small- and medium-sized businesses in New Brunswick. While Hydro Quebec has stated that the supply chain will not be affected, we recommend that contractual covenants be incorporated into the final agreement ensuring this will be the case; 100% of work that can be done by New Brunswick companies should be done by New Brunswick companies.
4) NB Power Service and Maintenance Levels. The service and maintenance levels presently enjoyed by NB Power consumers need to be preserved or improved. Both current and potential new businesses require a consistent, reliable source of power. As a result, we recommend that the final agreement contain contractual covenants providing for service and maintenance standards which are equivalent to or improve upon those which currently exist today.
5) Municipal Utilities. We recommend that Saint John Energy should not be negatively impacted by this transaction.
6) Energy Hub. It is unclear how this transaction will affect the future development of the New Brunswick Energy Hub. We recommend the final agreement contain further definition of how the New Brunswick Energy Hub will be protected and developed.

The Saint John Board of Trade is a nationally accredited business organization dedicated to fostering an economic climate that enhances growth, prosperity, and an improved quality of life in the community. With more than 1,000 members, representing 600 small, medium, and large businesses and organizations and therefore, the interests of more than 30,000 citizens, the Board is a dynamic advocate and the principal voice for the business community of Greater Saint John. The elected Board of Directors is representative of the diversity of the membership and their concerns.

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