Nova Scotia Power owes $22 million dollars to its customers, according to an audit report released yesterday. The audit was conducted for the province’s Utility and Review Board by the US-based Liberty Consulting Group. Liberty says that NSP paid too much for natural gas in the winter of 2010-2011 because of problems associated with hedging. The group also suggests that part of the utility’s over-expense on fuel may be connected to the fact that its parent company, Emera, is heavily involved in the region’s natural gas industry. Other expenses were incurred because of problems at the Lingan Power Plant in December of 2010, but Liberty says those problems could’ve been fixed relatively easily with the purchase of a different type of coal. The Utility and Review Board will be dealing with the audit’s recommendation in September, when it’ll also be ruling on the utility’s request for 6% rate hike for residential ratepayers over the next two years. Nova Scotia Power says it disagrees with the report’s conclusions. However, if it’s forced to pay customers back, the utility says that its credit rating will go down and its borrowing costs will go up, and those extra costs will be passed on to ratepayers in the future.