3rd Session, 61st General Assembly
60 Elizabeth II, 2011
First Reading: October 31, 2011
Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:
1 This Act may be cited as the Ratepayer Protection Act.
2 In this Act,
(a) "Corporation" means the Nova Scotia Power Incorporated;
(b) "executive" means any member of the Leadership Team of the Corporation, including, but not limited to, the President, the Chief Executive Officer, vice-presidents and senior managers;
(c) "Minister" means the Minister of Energy;
(d) "Review Board" means the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board;
(e) "security deposit" means any fee required before the initial power consumption contract between the Corporation and a customer.
3 (1) Beginning in the fiscal year 2012-13 and continuing on a biannual basis thereafter, the Minister shall direct the Board of Directors of the Corporation to complete and make public a performance and value-for-money audit of the Corporation.
(2) The performance and value-for-money audit must encompass operations, maintenance and general expenses for the two years before publication of the report.
(3) For the purpose of this Act, operations, maintenance and general expenses include
(a) total corporate groups;
(b) total power groups;
(c) total customer operations;
(d) customer service;
(e) total corporate adjustments; and
(f) any other expenditure which the Corporation deems from time to time to be included as operations, maintenance and general expenses.
(4) The performance and value-for-money audit must include, but is not limited to, examination of
(a) the governance, economy, efficiency and effectiveness of the Corporation or any activity, program, process or function of the Corporation;
(b) performance monitoring and reporting;
(c) internal control and systems;
(d) compliance with policy, statutes and regulations;
(e) stewardship over and appropriate use of funds acquired through electricity rates and other resources and property;
(f) maintenance of essential financial and other records; and
(g) any other area as determined by the Review Board in accordance with subsection (5).
(5) Upon accepting and considering written comments from interested parties, the Review Board may add issues and areas to be covered by the audit on a rotating period of three audits.
(6) The Minister shall table the audits carried out pursuant to subsection (4) in the House of Assembly, biannually, no later than March 31st in the year of tabling or, where the House of Assembly is not sitting, within ten days after the meeting of the House of Assembly next after March 31st.
4 (1) Beginning in fiscal year 2012-13, the Minister shall direct the Corporation to make public an annual report setting out how estimates regarding expenditures and revenues compare with current and actual costs.
(2) The report prepared pursuant to subsection (1) must include
(a) a statement of financial position of the Corporation;
(b) information comparing results with the business plan for the fiscal year;
(c) five-year projections for all classes of electricity rates, regardless of any pending rate approval at any rate hearing; and
(d) such other statements, supporting schedules and notes considered appropriate by the Minister or the Review Board.
(3) The Minister shall table the report prepared pursuant to subsection (1) in the House of Assembly not later than May 30th following the end of the fiscal year to which the report relates or, where the House of Assembly is not sitting, file the report with the Clerk of the Assembly.
5 (1) Compensation, other than regular salary paid to executives of the Corporation, must be from monies which would otherwise be directed to the Corporation's shareholders after the rate of return is determined.
(2) For further clarity, compensation such as executive bonuses must not be paid from funds collected in payment of electricity rates by ratepayers.
6 (1) Upon the Corporation making a general-rate application and before the hearing of the application, the Corporation shall hold public meetings on the proposed rate increase.
(2) The public meetings pursuant to subsection (1) must be held in the same manner and on the same matters as hearings before the Review Board.
(3) The public meetings held pursuant to subsection (1) must commence no later than thirty days before the scheduled date for the general rate application hearing.
7 (1) Where a rate settlement is reached by all registered intervenors before the holding of the general-rate application hearing, the settlement must be discussed at the public meeting convened pursuant to subsection (1).
(2) Where a rate settlement is reached by all registered intervenors before the holding of the general-rate application, the settlement must be made public and public comment sought.
(3) Where a rate settlement is not reached among all intervenors, Corporation costs associated with a general-rate application must be paid from monies that would otherwise go to shareholders of the Corporation.
(4) All registered intervenors may participate in the negotiations at the public meetings and any member of the public may observe the discussions and meetings.
8 No costs associated with a general rate application hearing may be included in whole or in part of the general rate.
9 The Corporation may not require customers in the Large Industrial Rate Class - ELI 2P-RTP to provide a security deposit.
10 This Act has effect on and after January 1, 2012.