The Utility and Review Board has explained to the Nova Scotia Appeal Court how and why it allowed information related to a $200-million Lunenburg County wind project to be kept secret.
The provincial regulator said in a supplementary decision Tuesday that it followed normal process in deciding Nova Scotia Power didn’t have to publicly disclose some of its filings on the South Canoe wind project.
The utility is a minority partner in the wind farm, which is led by Oxford Frozen Foods and Hantsport’s Minas Energy, previously known as Minas Basin Pulp & Power.
“It is not unusual for (Nova Scotia Power) or other public utilities regulated by the board to seek confidential treatment for certain information in these capital work orders,” the decision said. “In general, the type of information maintained as confidential is the same as that for which similar treatment was requested in this application.”
The board said the information kept out of the public eye was commercially sensitive or third-party proprietary data.
Justice Linda Lee Oland ruled in November that the confidentiality matter should be sent back to the board.
Questions about what South Canoe documents should be disclosed have arisen as part of a Glace Bay independent power producer’s appeal of the board’s decision last April to approve the wind farm.
Cape Breton Explorations Inc. contends the regulator erred in ruling that ratepayers be required to pay for and guarantee the profits of Nova Scotia Power’s $93-million investment in the project.
Luciano Lisi, Cape Breton Exploration’s president, said Tuesday the supplementary decision helps move his appeal closer to being heard.
“We need to get to the point where the court can decide: Was the decision of the (board) legally correct or not?” he said.
“The board may or may not have made an error. We believe they did. They believe they didn’t. and it will be up to the court to decide.”
A Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman said the board’s ruling upholds the original reasons for treating some information as confidential.
“However, it is one step in the process and we will continue to follow the process,” Neera Ritcey said. “Because the matter is in courts, it will not be appropriate to discuss details.”
South Canoe was given the green light by the province’s independent electricity administrator in 2012.
Other wind farm developers subsequently cried foul, saying the utility-backed venture had an unfair advantage.
The 34-turbine project, which will become the province’s largest wind farm, is slated to be operational by January 2015.
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