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NB Power aims to energize financial future through cost-effective, clean energy


New Brunswick's biggest power utility says it is going greener over the next twelve years in hopes of becoming more financially stable and improving its service.

NB Power released a new strategic plan on Wednesday called Energizing our Future that will explore a cheaper way to provide service to its customers while at the same time continuing its path toward cleaner and greener energy.

President and CEO Lori Clark says energizing the future is a departure from where they've been.

“I think we've demonstrated some of that in our rate filing last year where we saw rates were higher than they had been traditionally. Recognizing that the past is behind us and we need to chart a new path forward,” said Clark during a virtual meeting with the media.

The Crown Corporation's plan revolves around six strategies including a transition to a cost-effective, clean and secure supply of energy.

The utility says it will also modernize the power grid.

But what does that all mean for ratepayers?

“We are looking through this process to make sure that customers are paying their cost of service and realigning rates with those costs as load go up as well,” said Clark.

Before the plan was announced, Green Party Leader David Coon tabled a bill in the legislature in Fredericton calling on the province to increase NB Power's target for sourcing electricity from renewable sources.

Coon wants to see the legislated renewable electricity target for NB Power jump from 40 per cent to 80 per cent by 2030.

“Will the minister responsible for energy bring that target into line with the ambition of our neighbours in Nova Scotia and Maine to ensure that 80 per cent of our power is renewable by 2030?” said Coon.

Clark was asked if that was feasible.

“I've heard the federal government is looking at legislation around net zero by 2035, but the off coal by 2030 will also help us meet that target assuming that's going to be a renewable resource,” said Clark.

The head of NB Power was also asked how it can deal with its debt while trying to keep rates low.

"Raising rates is always a last resort for us and we're looking at cost optimization internally to ensure we're operating as efficiently and as effectively as we can. But, even with cost-optimization, we need to look at other things and ownership of assets is one of those things that I would say is a hard thing for us to do.

Clark said that’s not part of NB Power’s history and as an engineering company.

Looking at and entering partnerships with its assets, including the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station, is an option.

“Those are tough decisions for us to have to make,” said Clark. The sale of the head office building would be another one.”

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