Don’t trust Nova Scotia Power to fix what ails it

So there were these trees, see. And, it being July, these trees had leaves. Leafy leaves. And, this being Nova Scotia, there was a storm. Which meant rain that made the leaves wet. And wind that blew the wet leaves, so some of those trees fell down. around

So — this still being Nova Scotia — there were power outages. Too many to count, or at least for Nova Scotia Power’s computer system to keep track of. Your call is important to us.

After the storm — as predictably as the weather is unpredictable — we had NSP’s if-you-don’t-buy-this-one-how-about-that-one? laundry list of lame excuses.

There was the weatherman. Forecasters got wind speeds wrong, making it tough for NSP to restore power for the up-to 245,000 of us whose lights went out, some for as long as a week. Doesn’t make sense to you? You’re not alone. Premier Stephen McNeil labeled that one “ridiculous.”

Well then, how about those leafy leaves, 2014’s version of 2006’s salty fog? In NSP’s version, those leaves were our fault. Of course. We like our leafy leaves so much we wouldn’t let the nice linemen trim them, so they wouldn’t mess with their power lines.

In its report last week to the Utility and Review Board, in fact, the power company singles out grumpy cottage owners, who “value their privacy and want as little clearing as deemed absolutely necessary” for creating the problems that led to the outages that led to the outrage.

Funny. I’ve owned a cottage for more than a decade and I can’t recall the power company ever asking me if I’d mind a little nip and tuck to keep the branches out of the way. I wouldn’t.

Once you get past NSP’s all-purpose failure-to-communicate (ya think?) confusion and beyond its blame-the-customer bafflegab, here is what you won’t find in the power company’s 173-page “Post-Tropical Storm Arthur: Review of Nova Scotia Power’sStorm Response…”

There is no questioning — no even mentioning — decades of boardroom decisions to keep cutting back front-line service workers while exponentially increasing pay packages for front-office executives, whose bonuses are at least partly a corporate thank you for their shareholder-pleasing service cuts.

Bottom line: don’t put your faith in this company to fix what ails it.


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  1. I am a veteran news reporter formerly with CBC news. I am now a free lance writer and continue to follow the stories that matter. I am frustrated by Nova Scotia Powers’ explanations and excuses because I have hear
    d all of them many times in the days since our then Conservative Premier Don Cameron turned the company over to the private sector. There is much to be said about this issue , but I will keep my comments brief. On at least three ocassions over about 25 years I was called to news conferences where Nova Scotia Power announced cost cutting measures that included deferred maintenance. In simple terms, that meant they would not be cutting trees nar power lines until some future day when they could better afford it. During those years, after each storm where power was lost there was always a discussion about the need for improved communications with customers .The sagga continues . In a business model that must pay share holders cash , and also pay customers lip service about imporiving their service ,two things get set aside . One is that the long history of rural electrification was never based on a plan to pay share holders a good return on thier investment. It was based on a model of community service and expanded infasrtucture . Maintaining power in less populated areas is a costly business that doesn’t knit smoothly into the current business plan. The other is that that the poor commnications issue is a diversion . People would’t care as much about communications with the utility if they had more robust and reliable power system.


  2. I’ve been waiting for someone, anyone to say this. Don’t let the bamboozlers win. Thank you Stephen!


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