HALIFAX: A local wind project was selected and another was rejected to take part in a power purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power (NSP).
In a press release issued on Aug. 17, CustomerFirst Renewables, the procurement administrator for the provincial government, announced the successful energy projects that included WEB Weavers Mountain Wind in Antigonish and Pictou counties, which will be developed by SWEB Development and Glooscap First Nation.
Successful projects will receive a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with NSP for the sale of their renewable electricity, according to the release. The projects must secure all required regulatory permits and approvals, including an environmental assessment which involves holding community consultations, CustomerFirst noted.
A proposal from Community Wind for a 100 megawatt, 18-turbine wind farm along Route 19 on approximately 8,000 hectares of Crown and private land between Long Point and Creignish was turned down.
In a press release issued after the announcement, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said he was satisfied that proposal was rejected.
“Our office received many concerns about the proposed project,” said MacMaster. “This decision should put the minds of local property owners at ease about any development in this area.”
According to MacMaster, the former Liberal provincial government created an external procurement agency to ask for renewable energy projects and the Rhodena Wind project was considered.
“There are many possible locations in our province to generate renewable energy,” said MacMaster, “including the offshore.”
According to the company’s release, the Rate Base Procurement (RBP) portfolio is comprised of five projects, totaling 372 megawatts or 1,373 gigawatt hours per year of renewable low-impact electricity production representing approximately 12 per cent of Nova Scotia’s total electricity consumption.
“CustomerFirst Renewables (CFR) is proud to have administered this RFP and ensured a fair, transparent, objective and competitive procurement process,” said Gary Farha, CEO and founder of CFR. “This procurement, created in consultation with the province and other key stakeholders, was designed to capture renewable energy projects that deliver the best value to ratepayers, meaningful engagement and ownership with the Mi’kmaq and other underrepresented communities, and positive economic impact for local supply chains. CFR is excited to continue driving new renewable energy in Nova Scotia through future procurements.”
The average energy rate of the RBP portfolio is $53.17 per megawatt hour, the company said, noting this delivers “tangible value” for Nova Scotia ratepayers by being lower than the average cost of electricity in Nova Scotia. They said these projects will save ratepayers an estimated $120 million annually over the next 25 years.
The projects will be operational by the end of 2025 CustomerFirst noted. They said the projects will reduce Nova Scotia’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than one million tonnes annually, are expected to generate more than $550 million in construction activity, and create about 2,000 direct and indirect jobs.
CustomerFirst said all projects made commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion and each project has committed to providing benefits to local communities such as training, skill development, capacity building, grants or scholarships.
Each project is majority owned by one or more Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, CustomerFirst said, ensuring that Indigenous communities are “meaningfully engaged” and will see positive benefits as a result of renewable development in the province.
“WMA is pleased to have been successful with its partner Natural Forces for the selection of the Benjamin Mills Wind Project in the Nova Scotia Rate Procurement Process,” Crystal Nicholas, President, Wskijinu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency Ltd. said. “This is a win-win by providing green energy to Nova Scotia, at a competitive price, while also bringing economic and other benefits to all 13 Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia. WMA is pleased to partner with Natural Forces in this green energy project. Natural Forces has partnered with the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq for over a decade.”
According to CustomerFirst, the projects will produce up to 1.3 million megawatt hours of wind power each year. By adding nearly 12 per cent more renewable electricity to the grid, they said these projects will bring Nova Scotia to 70 per cent of electricity generated from renewables.
The projects also support the province’s goals for a 53 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and becoming net-zero by 2050, CustomerFirst said, adding that this initiative represents the largest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a single government procurement.
“These projects show that the transition to renewables is more affordable than perpetuating the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity; a point that the Ecology Action Centre has been reiterating as one of the many benefits of increasing renewable energy generation in the province,” says Kelsey Lane, senior climate policy coordinator with EAC. “Overall, the procurement of renewables is a good step forward for increasing affordability and reducing emissions from the electricity sector.”
In a press release, the EAC said it is urging the provincial government to provide capacity to local governments for public education and meaningful community engagement around the development of wind. Lane says that the provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that these wind projects benefit communities equitably so that no one is left behind in the transition to renewable energy.
“Given the climate emergency we are facing, we have to end the burning of fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” says Lane. “But our transition to a fair and sustainable economy must not only shift what we build, but how we build it. New ways of generating electricity must not perpetuate old practices that have created so much inequity in our communities and have landed us in the climate and biodiversity collapse crises we find ourselves in today.”
Although these projects will contribute to reducing GHG emissions, Lane stresses that Nova Scotia still has a long way to go before the province is on track to appropriately addressing the climate crisis.
“In addition to adding more renewable sources of electricity to the grid, it is important that we invest in energy efficiency, interregional connections and energy storage – all of which play a critical role in decarbonizing our electricity,” Lane added. “This set of projects is a step towards giving Nova Scotians and their families access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity. Research shows us that a switch to clean electricity is not only possible, it will also benefit health, affordability and our chance at a better future.”