Nova Scotia Power Making Way For Competition From Renewables

Coal Plant

By Maura Forrest

March 31, 2016

Nova Scotia’s electricity market is opening up to competition from renewable energy companies.

Last week, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board set out guidelines for how Nova Scotia Power will have to share the energy market with renewable providers. The guidelines stem from legislation passed in 2013.

The new rules will allow renewable energy companies to sell directly to consumers for the first time.

“I think that Nova Scotia is seeing the dawn today of a new energy marketplace which, in the long term if it works, is going to be a benefit to us,” John Merrick, a consumer advocate, told CBC News.

But Nova Scotia Power still has to decide how much it will charge renewable providers to deliver electricity through its grid. That cost is expected to be substantial.

“It’s significant. Roughly half of the cost that we will incur for providing power will be associated with the grid and Nova Scotia Power infrastructure,” Dan Roscoe, chief operating officer of wind-energy company SWEB Development, told the Chronicle Herald.

Nova Scotia Power will present its desired fees to the review board in April.

This is potentially good news for the province’s renewable energy sector, particularly after the government cancelled a community feed-in tariff program last summer.

At the time, the provincial Liberal government said the program had “achieved its objectives,” and could cause power rates to rise if it were continued.

Catherine Abreu, energy coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, told DeSmog Canada that she worried the decision meant the province was “backing away from support for community-owned renewable power.”

But in January, the province announced it had exceeded its target of generating 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources in 2015. It claimed it had produced 26.6 per cent of its power from hydro, wind, tidal and biomass energy. That marked an increase from just nine per cent in 2007.

“We have made remarkable progress in Nova Scotia,” Mark Sidebottom, Nova Scotia Power’s vice-president responsible for power generation, told CBC News. “No other Canadian utility has made this kind of rapid transition.”