Industry to save less in revised deal to sell NB Power to Hydro-Quebec: source

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's industrial customers won't be getting as large of a power rate cut as first promised under the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Quebec, a source close to the negotiations said Sunday.
Under the original proposal signed by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham and Quebec Premier Jean Charest last year, industrial rates were supposed to have been slashed by about 30 per cent to bring them in line with Quebec.
But that rate cut will be less under the revised deal, a source said, declining to specify what the new reduction would be.
"While the overall rate benefit to New Brunswickers will decrease as a result of the discussions, government has decided that all of the loss will be directed to industrial users," said the source.
The tentative deal would also freeze energy rates for homeowners for five years - a clause that hasn't changed, the source said.
According to the deal announced in October, Hydro-Quebec would assume the major assets of the New Brunswick utility including transmission lines, hydroelectric dams and the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant for $4.75 billion - an amount equal to NB Power's debt.
Since then, thousands of New Brunswickers have signed petitions and staged protests in opposition to the deal, arguing it would relinquish ownership and control over the province's energy future.
Last week, Conservative Opposition Leader David Alward said he had learned the provincial government was no longer going to sell transmission lines and New Brunswick's system operator as part of the deal.
Graham has so far refused to directly answer questions about whether the deal has changed. He has repeatedly said that negotiations were continuing and any final agreement would lower power rates and debt while creating jobs and protecting the environment.
Graham and Charest are aiming to close the deal by the end of March.

Organizations: NB Power, Hydro-Quebec

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Quebec, New Brunswickers FREDERICTON

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