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At odds over renewable energy

Premier Darrell Dexter and Tory Leader Jamie Baillie traded offers of blackboard lessons Thursday as they debated the cost of renewable energy to power consumers.

The Tories have for weeks chided the Dexter government about its renewable energy targets driving up costs.

A Tory news release Wednesday said it appeared about 25 per cent of the proposed electricity rate hike was attributable to government policies, but a caucus spokeswoman said Thursday the power costs are so intertwined that a definite figure is unknown.

Dexter accused the third-place party of advocating a fossil fuel policy that led to a 35 per cent increase in electricity costs from 2002 to 2009. He also said the price of coal, Nova Scotia Power’s main fuel, is up 75 per cent in the last six years.

“Maybe the next time I try to explain it, maybe I should use a blackboard because it’s a choice between having a graph line that continues to go up, and one that allows you to create a stable energy price or a flat line,” Dexter said.

“I’m not sure why they have so much difficulty trying to grasp the simple concept that, you know, the faster you can get to stable energy prices, the better off the public is.”

Baillie said renewable energy sources are the way to go, but at a pace Nova Scotians can afford.

“If we’re going to get a blackboard out, I would like to teach him Economics 101, that raising the HST and forcing power prices up costs jobs and it hurts families.”

The provincial Utility and Review Board is considering an agreement between Nova Scotia Power and most of its customer groups for an average increase of a little more than five per cent in 2012. It would add about a $6 a month to the average household power bill.

The Dexter government wants 25 per cent of the province’s electricity to be generated from renewable energy, such as wind, biomass and tidal energy, by 2015, and 40 per cent by 2020.