The ‘power’ of economic development

The local media this morning is reporting that residential electricity customers won’t have to pay as big an increase for power next year as NB Power predicted in October The Public Utilities Board ruled on Wednesday that industrial users will have to pay a larger part of the average 11 per cent increase NB Power is seeking in 2006-2007 and residential users should pay less.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I just bought this summer a big old maison in downtown Moncton. My electricity costs are absolutely shocking (no pun intended) but I can’t help but think this ruling may hamper economic development.

One of the cost areas that manufacturers look at closely when evaluating a community is energy costs. I have watched over the past 15 years as our industrial and commercial power rates have steadily risen from one of the best in Canada to now one of the worst.

Maybe we don’t realize how much we are reliant on manufacturing in this province. Well, let me remind you that manufacturing jobs in Greater Moncton alone grew by over 50% from 1991 to 2001. Other areas of the province such as Bathurst-Campbellton are even more reliant on manufacturing.

So hammering industrial users may be a great political decision but maybe not a good policy decision.

I don’t know this for sure. Maybe manufacturers will absorb these increases. Maybe there will be grumbling but no real negative impact.

It will save me about $400/year – more than the measly income tax cut a couple of years ago – my pocket book is relieved – but my head tells me this is another ominous warning sign for the economic future of our province.

And I would gladly pay that $400 more per year if I thought it would contribute to fixing our economic problems.

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0 Responses to The ‘power’ of economic development

  1. Anonymous says:

    Typically how most states and provinces run it, is that energy increases are combined with taxpayer funded initiatives towards energy efficiency. In NB? Nah.

    However, you are missing the ominous clouds and the keyboard music. Who is out there who doesn’t like competition? What large corporation (hint, its family owned) is out there that normally would shout and grimace about rising energy costs, but wait, oh, well isn’t this a coincidence, they’re going into business to supply their OWN energy! Well, isn’t that a relief.

    So here’s the triple whammy and why I said we might as well start off each day with “your government screwed you again” (sort of like the Big Brother mantra in 1984):

    Not only are there few energy efficiency incentives geared towards industry (or anybody), and not only are costs going up(and are directly related to manufacturing growth), but now ONE company will be able to provide itself with its OWN energy. Making it virtually impossible for anybody else to compete, and of course making NB look like the feudal kingdom it is so that only equally narrow minded corporations come to the province, and all will be making their deals with ______, NOT the province. Then our province will be truly redundant, and instead of criticizing the Party’s performance, we will be directing it at the people who TRULY run the province anyway.