Divergent and sometimes conflicting regulation could be harmonized without any province giving up its complete control of the regulatory regimen. And separating regulators from the political process, an area in which there has been some recent progress, could yield greater stability and predictability.

Much of what might be done co-operatively, as new electric supply develops, has been tried elsewhere in North America. Greater interaction among provinces and utilities can thus draw lessons from experience elsewhere.

In short, major change is coming in the Atlantic Canada electric sector. Benefits to customers will flow from the increased use of hydro and wind power, plus the more efficient use of electricity.

But progress will come at a price to consumers, because new renewable resources and related transmission will cause rate increases. That makes it important for provincial governments and utilities to seek all the economies they can achieve, while protecting their right to govern their own utilities and resources.

Political considerations will always be present, but policy objectives need to be defined with the customer always in mind. The goal should be to benefit customers in terms of reliable service at reasonable rates. Increased co-operation between the Atlantic provinces can help achieve these objectives, ensuring that consumers realize the full benefits of the opportunities that will be available in the years ahead.

AIMS Senior Fellow in Electricity Policy Gordon Weil discusses his recent paper, “Taking Stock of Atlantic Canada’s Electricity Sector” on News 95.7, CBC New Brunswick, and the Todd Veinotte Show!