Regulations restricting the costs Nova Scotia Power Inc. can recover from ratepayers are now in effect.
Legislation was passed in the House of Assembly this fall to limit factors that affect rates, including removing bonuses and capping executive salary amounts that can be charged to ratepayers.
"We are taking action to make it easier for families and those on fixed incomes to manage their budgets," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. "The legislation, and accompanying regulations, ensure greater predictability and certainty over electricity rates as we continue to move forward with our longer-term plan to get off expensive coal and into more renewable sources of energy."
In addition to removing executive bonuses and capping salaries, the changes to the Public Utilities Act also limit the number of costly rate hearings and ensuring the Utility and Review Board can order a "savings" review of Nova Scotia Power.
The salary cap will be based on the pay of senior provincial officials. The regulations also clarify restrictions on the frequency of general rate increase applications.
"We understand that people are frustrated and worried about the rising cost of electricity and they want government to ensure they have the lowest electricity rates possible," said Parker. "That's why we took the HST off electricity rates and why we brought forward this legislation. It's another step we are taking to stand up for Nova Scotians and stabilize electricity rates over the long term."
The changes were announced during the general rate hearing in September. Based on 2012 salary levels, the cap on executive salaries will save more than $500,000 for ratepayers annually. Reducing general rate hearings saves about $2 million per hearing.
A decision from the Utility and Review Board late last week about electricity rates and fuel costs will further reduce costs that can be recovered from ratepayers in 2013 and 2014. It reduces Nova Scotia Power's return on equity and expenses allowed for executive pensions.