Soaring power rates limit small business growth in Nova Scotia

Halifax, February 22, 2016 – A new research report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows small business owners in Nova Scotia are not only concerned with increasing power rates but also the lack of rate stability.

The report, Powering Entrepreneurship, provides a small business perspective on power utilities and the cost of electricity in Atlantic Canada. It also indicates small business owners are noticing a trend in their power bills: energy costs are rising, even when consumption is not.

“Energy costs, in general, are a huge concern for our members”, says CFIB’s Director of Provincial Affairs in Nova Scotia, Nick Langley. “During the past three years, the majority of our members in Atlantic Canada have seen large or moderate increases in their energy costs. For about 85 per cent of our members, electricity is the main source of energy. While the impacts of increasing energy costs are numerous, the majority of businesses have seen a loss of profits,” adds Langley. 

In Nova Scotia, power rates have increased significantly and often over the past decade. One of the major reasons for the electricity rate increases has been the volatile costs of coal and natural gas. 

“Over the last six years, there has been no stability or predictability on energy rates for Nova Scotia small businesses”, says Langley. “Ratepayers were hit the hardest with energy rate increases compared to other Atlantic provinces, rising 6 cents per kWh. This had a major impact on small businesses as 70 per cent of them already find their electricity bills to be too high based on the amount of energy consumed. The costs of the Maritime Link will also be pushed onto ratepayers. If energy rates are not better controlled Nova Scotians will be paying some of the highest rates in the country.” 

CFIB’s report also shows that small business owners in Nova Scotia recognize the importance of improving the energy efficiency of their business. Although EfficiencyOne offers many rebates and incentives for small businesses and has been successful in saving energy costs for some small businesses, many owners don’t believe they are getting their money’s worth.

“Small business owners understand the importance of improving energy efficiency, but they need help to do it. Many small business owners in Nova Scotia say they’re unaware of the programming, don’t believe they are getting good value for their money or they were denied access to the programming. EfficiencyOne’s process to save energy is very technical. We are hopeful they’ll take the comments of small business owners into consideration and make improvements to their programs and how they’re communicated to the small business.” 

In its report, CFIB recommends:

  • The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) needs to ensure rate increases are stable and predictable;
  • EfficiencyOne needs to better promote and hold education seminars to help small businesses reach their energy efficiency goals.

“If we want to see economic growth and job creation in Nova Scotia, we collectively need to focus on creating an environment where businesses can grow and where entrepreneurial individuals are encouraged to live their dream and launch their first business. Reducing the power bill for small business owners and offering them the tools they need to reduce their consumption of energy are definitely part of the solution”, says Nick Langley.

About CFIB

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including about 5,200 in Nova Scotia.

For more information please contact Nick Langley, Director of Provincial Affairs for Nova Scotia at nick.langley@cfib.caor by calling 902 420-1997.