On February 23, 2024, Nova Scotia’s Clean Electricity Solutions Task Force released a report: Modernizing Energy from Transmission to Transformation. The Task Force spent the last roughly 10 months consulting with stakeholders and exploring ways to modernize the province’s electricity infrastructure and regulatory environment.

Launched in April 2023, the Task Force includes Alison Scott, a former deputy minister and energy regulator, and John MacIsaac, a former utility executive.

Some recommendations from the Task Force’s report include:

  • Creating the Nova Scotia Independent Energy System Operator (NSIESO), based on the not-for-profit Efficiency One model;
  • Allow NSIESO to oversee open competition for procurement of all new infrastructure, including for generation, transmission, distribution, and storage (not excluding Nova Scotia Power).
  • Create a standalone energy regulator, called the Nova Scotia Energy Board, responsible for electricity, natural gas, pipelines, enforcement and retail gasoline, separate and distinct from the Utility and Review Board (UARB);
  • Have Nova Scotia Power submit an annual asset management plan for approval by the regulator, as well as dedicated plan for wood pole and vegetation management; and,
  • The provincial government should evaluate subsidy programs in Ontario and other programs to determine a “Made in Nova Scotia” suite of programs to help residential electricity costs.

In response to the Task Force’s report, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables, Tory Rushton, outlined the province’s support for some of the report’s recommendations, as well as reluctance to support others, for the time being:

I can confirm that the government accepts the recommendation for a new Energy Modernization Act which I plan to table in the upcoming session of the legislature. Among other things, this legislation will create an independent energy system operator and a standalone energy regulator… I can also confirm that we support the independent energy system operator overseeing open competition for new generation and storage infrastructure. However, at this time, we will not consider extending that responsibility to transmission and distribution.”

The provincial government will continue to review recommendations 2 to 12.

On February 27, 2024, the provincial government introduced Bill 404 – Energy Reform (2024) Act, to implement several of the recommendations.

Peter Gregg, Nova Scotia Power’s President and CEO, welcomed the report’s two key recommendations as “positive next steps.” Gregg believes a dedicated energy regulator is important to advance critical projects, and that a new system operator can allow Nova Scotia Power to focus on providing reliable service to customers and on delivering key projects such as grid-scale batteries and the new intertie between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Gregg added: “We will work with government on next steps to ensure that we all get this right for our customers.”