Ligni Bel sawmill wins case against Nova Scotia Power
Ligni Bel Ltd. will not have to pay its $85,000 fine from Nova Scotia Power.
The fine relates to a power interruption call in January 2011. Nova Scotia Power said they contacted the mill’s automated calling system 3 times on January 23, 2011, requesting the mill reduce its power load.
Ligni Bel receives a discounted rate for being in a class of industrial customers that agree to turn off their electricity when Nova Scotia Power needs to reduce the power load during peak times.
Officials at Ligni Bel said they only received the third request that evening, and responded right away.
Two other unidentified companies have been fined for not responding to the emergency call on the same date. Both companies have said they also didn’t receive the calls, but they are paying the penalty.
Ligni Bel argued at a hearing before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board that it can not afford the penalty. The sawmill has been shut down since November 2, 2011 because all of the sawmill’s wood supply had been coming from NewPage Port Hawkesbury, which is currently not operating.
Gilbert Carre, Manager of Ligni Bel, represented himself at the hearing in December 2011 with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
At the hearing, Carre reiterated that the company had no business or monetary gain to achieve by failing to comply with a load reduction request.
Carre told the hearing that the mill was not in full operation on that day. He was able to provide a layout sketch of where all the phones for the line dedicated to receive power interruption calls from Nova Scotia Power, and where he, and all of his employees were at the time in question.
Nova Scotia Power explained their computerized, automated, calling system at the hearing. After a person at Nova Scotia Power indicates a power reduction is required, the entire chain of notification by telephone to customers in the program is handled by computers, data centers, and phone lines.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board decided that although Nova Scotia Power’s computerized calling system detected that the phone was ringing at the Ligni Bel sawmill, they couldn’t prove that the phone was indeed ringing.
In addition, the board ruled that because the sawmill wasn’t operating, Ligni Bel really had no commercial or business reason to deliberately ignore the call.
Therefore, because there was plenty of evidence that Ligni Bel reacted swiftly after they answered the third placed call, reducing their power consumption to zero, and Nova Scotia Power couldn’t prove the first two calls rang the phones at Ligni Bel, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has cancelled the $85,000 penalty.
Read the full decision from the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.
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