Jan 142013
Rob Bennett.
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CEO lands in brand new soft job.

by Stephen Kimber

One of the enduring myths among those who bow down to the gods of the marketplace is that someone who screws up in the private sector — unlike the cosseted public sphere — will suffer inevitable, inevitably dire consequences for failure.
While there may be truth to that at the lower rungs of the corporate ladder, those at the top seem well insulated from the rigors of marketplace discipline.

Two-million to unsuccessfully contest the audit, $2 million for conduct unbecoming and $4.5 million more to cover disallowed fuel costs. That’s $8.5 million.

Case in point: Rob Bennett, until last week the president and chief operating officer of Nova Scotia Power, 2011 salary circa $1.15 million, up 23 percent from the year before…
Last month, the Nova Scotia Utilities Review Board issued its decision on NSP’s latest rate increase request. While granting three percent increases in 2013 and 2014, the board tore a strip off Nova Scotia Power management — which is to say, Bennett. 
It disallowed $4.5 million in fuel costs the company had claimed in 2010 and 2011, arguing NSP could have purchased fuel more cheaply. 
And it expressed its “dismay and concern” over the company’s “unreasonable… inappropriate… inexplicable… inexcusable” conduct during the hearings. After spending $2 million  to hire 10 experts and filing over 1,000 pages of evidence to attack an independent auditor’s conclusions, the company — on the very last day of the hearings — revealed important information about its fuel market dealings, which, the board noted, added “significant time, cost and rancor, unnecessarily” to the proceedings.
The URB fined NSP $2 million for bad behavior.
Let’s see… Two-million to unsuccessfully contest the audit, $2 million for conduct unbecoming and $4.5 million more to cover disallowed fuel costs. That’s $8.5 million.
And don’t forget that during Bennett’s four-year watch, a $93-million heat recovery project went 40 percent over budget and the company had to swallow more costs because of delays in moving into its new corporate headquarters.
Did Bennett walk the plank for his transgressions? Fall on his sword in shame?
Not exactly. Last week, Emera, NSP’s parent company, announced Bennett would become its executive vice president and chief operating officer, a job that didn’t exist before it was created coincidentally just in time for Bennett’s soft landing.
Ah, yes, the private sector. Where the consequence of failure is… success.

About Stephen Kimber

Stephen Kimber is the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax. He is an award-winning writer, editor and broadcaster.

His writing has appeared in almost all major Canadian publications including Canadian Geographic, Financial Post Magazine, Maclean's, En Route, Chatelaine, Financial Times, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and the National Post. He has written one novel — Reparations — and six non-fiction books. Website: http://www.stephenkimber.com.

© Copyright 2013 Stephen Kimber, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca

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