There have been two major promotions involving executives at Nova Scotia Power and its parent company, Emera.

Rob Bennett, former president of Nova Scotia Power, has been promoted to the role of executive vice-president and chief operating officer at Emera – a new position created for him.

“It’s the kind of thing I’ve been working toward my whole career,” he says. “I have a focus on integrating our companies.”

The promotion puts him second in command of the energy company, behind president and CEO Chris Huskilson.

Bob Hanf, former executive chairman of Light & Power Holdings in the Caribbean, will be taking Bennett’s place as president and CEO at Nova Scotia Power, which promised to trim $27 million in costs during last fall’s rate hearing.

“Right now the majority of cost is expensive coal, so we’ll have to look at the number of portfolios to lower cost,” says Hanf.

Bennett and Hanf say the changes won’t have any impact on power rates, but consumer advocate John Merrick is concerned about a commitment made during the last rate hearings to help low-income customers.

“I think it’s doing some good, bringing together come groups who work with low-income consumers of electricity,” he says. “I would hope that Nova Scotia Power continues to back and support that program.”

“I’m very much looking forward to implementing those changes,” says Hanf.

Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil is more concerned about regulation changes, rather than executive ones.

“They need to see an announcement coming out of One Government Place that’s going to protect Nova Scotia ratepayers,” says McNeil.

Bennett’s compensation was about $1 million last spring, but in the fall, the provincial government capped power company salaries at the level of top civil servants. Anything over can not be applied to power rates.

In addition to the executive changes, Emera also confirmed today that it has purchased an eight-storey office building on Halifax’s Terminal Road, near its headquarters.

“Emera is growing. The $5-billion future we have in front of us creates more growth and we’ll be hiring more people,” says Bennett.

He says the company’s $5-billion investment is over the next four to five years, including the $1.2 billion for the Maritime link in the Muskrat Falls project. Bennett explains the remainder is for investments in Nova Scotia, the U.S. and in the Caribbean.

The price of the building purchase was not disclosed.

The location is leased almost entirely to the provincial government for the departments of justice and labour.

Emera spokesperson Sasha Irving says the company will take over the space as the leases expire late in the year.

WIth files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant