November 30, 2021
Government Bill Opens Door for NB Power to Pursue Private Business Interests
FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon says that the government’s bill to amend the Electricity Act will allow NB Power to establish private companies to sell products and services, without any public oversight. The bill will create a holding company to own NB Power itself but will be controlled by NB Power management, who will be able to launch private business interests backed by taxpayers.
“I was flabbergasted when I first saw this bill, because it fundamentally changes the mandate of NB Power as a public utility,” said Coon. “The bill enables NB Power to set up a corporate structure that will allow it to pursue business ventures or invest in the business ventures of others, like JOI Scientific’s hydrogen project, without any public accountability.”
The bill, which will also allow NB Power to transfer staff, property, and other assets into newly created private business ventures, is currently being debated by the Legislature’ Economic Policy Committee, which does not have the mandate to call for expert witnesses. At the second reading debate, Coon tried to have the bill sent to the Law Amendments Committee in order to hear from expert witnesses, but government members defeated his motion.
“Why is the Higgs government using their majority to ram this bill through the Legislature without an adequate review?” asked Coon. “It fundamentally changes the mandate of NB Power as a public utility, launching it into the world of venture capitalism at the taxpayer’s risk.”