Mark Arsenault, President and C.E.O. of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association is calling on the Government of New Brunswick to intervene and impose an immediate energy rate freeze on NB Power. “There is no long term, or even a short term, plan to control run-away energy rates. The government needs to take control and impose a freeze until a short-term plan and long term vision can be found and implemented” said Arsenault. He added “New Brunswick manufacturers were counting on significant energy cost reductions and planned their operations and budgets according to the promoted Hydro Quebec MOU. Our companies need time to adjust our operations to absorb any potential increases”.
New Brunswick still has a very serious problem that requires action. Jobs and communities are at risk. Whether we are talking about the forest sector or new economic opportunities, competitive power rates are vital to the future of New Brunswick’s jobs and communities. Today, without an increase, NB industrial electricity rates are already 40% above Canadian average NB is Canada’s most export intensive province NB has 58,000 goods producing jobs. Neighboring jurisdictions have clearly moved to secure manufacturing jobs with lower rates. Corporate surveys show energy is a key deciding factor in determining growth/expansion or relocation*. We need to know how New Brunswick is going to deal with this issue and help us compete on a level playing field.
For many years, we have advocated for more competitive power rates, reliable and clean energy. Our members have and continue to invest in energy efficiency. The fact remains that there is no substitute for competitive electricity rates for New Brunswick industry to sustain manufacturing plants and related jobs.
New Brunswick’s forests continue to be a leading contributor of jobs, wages, and vital tax dollars for healthcare, education and other programs that contribute to the quality of life in this province. There is no other natural resource in NB that generates the number of jobs and the extensive value chain of forest products. No other sector impacts the number of communities and families that forestry does.
The current debate has brought New Brunswickers a deeper understanding of energy issues in our province and the need to provide competitive power rates for our residents and manufacturing sector. We must not give up on the urgency to focus on this problem and find a solution.