Nova Scotia Power couldn't be trusted to look out for customer interests: audit

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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Power couldn't be trusted to look out for their customers' interests when it came to buying natural gas, say newly released portions of an audit released Tuesday.

The report says the private utility company spent $6 million more than necessary on natural gas over a two-year period.

"NSPI has demonstrated that customers cannot rely upon it to champion their interests with respect to prices for natural gas in the Maritimes market," said a section of the audit that was previously redacted.

A heavily redacted version of the audit by the Liberty Consulting Group released this summer said Nova Scotia Power owes its customers a refund because it overcharged them $22 million due to poor fuel purchasing practices.

On Tuesday, some of those blacked out sections were released after a ruling by the province's Utility and Review Board.

Nova Scotia Power has disputed the audit's conclusions and filed an affidavit with the board in a bid to prevent it from being released to the public, arguing that it is defamatory, would violate the privacy of employees and break contractual confidentiality.

The company said it wanted certain sections of the audit kept under wraps until the board released a decision on their merits on Oct. 29.

The board ruled while there was a public interest in preserving some commercially sensitive information, the same didn't apply to criticisms of Nova Scotia Power.

The sections of the audit released Tuesday also say Nova Scotia Power didn't aggressively pursue better deals for natural gas when opportunities arose, nor did it look for ways to keep the costs of natural gas lower.

"What would best serve NSPI and its customers here is not likely to be consistent with what serves the interests of the remainder of the corporate family, which has substantial business relationships with major Maritimes market participants," the audit said.

A spokesman for the utility sent an email Tuesday saying the report, "leaps to unsupported allegations that denigrate the rigour and professionalism of Nova Scotia Power's purchasing and management of natural gas."

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power, Liberty Consulting Group, Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Maritimes

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