The Maritimes region of Canada, which includes Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, has low population and high wind – ideal ingredients for wind project development. And thanks to increased renewable energy targets – including a community feed-in tariff program – the Atlantic Canada provinces include more than 846 MW of installed wind capacity encompassing 413 wind turbines.
Wind energy is now close to being cost competitive with every potential new source of generation available. For example, the cost of coal has increased 75% over the past seven years in Nova Scotia.
Traditional sources of energy are open to extreme price volatility; therefore, the long-term cost certainty and stabilizing effect of electricity rates from wind farms provide important protection for consumers.
While electricity production from natural gas is cheaper today due to booming shale gas production, wind was cheaper than gas five years ago and will only see its competitive position improve as gas prices increase in response to growing demand and more stringent environmental regulations.
Nova Scotia, which leads Maritime provinces in installed capacity, is featuring wind energy to become self-sufficient when it comes to energy production. Wind energy can be developed through a variety of programs under the Renewable Electricity Plan: Enhanced Net Metering, the Community Feed-In Tariff (COMFIT) program and programs for large-scale projects.
Today, Nova Scotia has over 300 MW of installed wind energy capacity, and its Renewable Electricity Plan calls for a minimum of 600 GWh of electricity to come from new commercial renewable energy projects by 2015.
As part of its 2015 target, the government of Nova Scotia has awarded over 100 MW of community wind projects to date. Through a competitive request for proposals process, the renewable electricity administrator recently awarded three large-scale wind projects for a total of 115.8 MW. These newly awarded projects are to be commissioned by January 2015.
Nova Scotia’s COMFIT program allows for community groups to provide local renewable energy to the distribution grid. In order to be eligible for the program, a project must have a 51% ownership by a community group, such as a municipality, First Nation or local cooperative.
Nova Scotia also features a Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF) to facilitate wind energy development. The CEDIF provides a pool of capital, formed through the sale of shares to persons within a defined community, created to operate or invest in local business. While not limited to the COMFIT program, CEDIFs provide an opportunity for Nova Scotians to invest in local wind energy projects while receiving a tax rebate from the province.
Strong support for these COMFIT wind projects was shown in 2012, when the CEDIF Wind4All successfully raised $5.5 million from investors across Nova Scotia.
It is expected that approximately 200 MW of community renewable energy projects will be awarded in total through the COMFIT program. Approximately 20 MW of wind projects are expected to be installed by the end of this year. Currently, the COMFIT program is under review and will not be accepting any more projects exceeding 50 kW.
The Maritime Link – a proposed C$1.5 billion submarine cable to ship hydroelectricity from Muskrat Falls on the Churchill River in Labrador to Nova Scotia – has generated much discussion in the province. The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board is expected to make a decision on the link later this summer, and the electricity grid in Atlantic Canada may be changing significantly in the near future.
It is always important to ensure full lifecycle costs are considered when choosing an energy source. Lifecycle costs must consider impacts on the air quality, water usage, environment and potential cost overruns that are often passed on to ratepayers. With wind energy, the cost is locked in.
Wind energy is a smart choice for Atlantic Canada, and Nova Scotians can take pride in their provincial government’s clean energy leadership, which is creating emissions-free power and driving significant local economic benefits. Dozens of municipalities and thousands of farmers, landowners and citizens are enjoying a productive relationship with wind energy in that province.
From more than 300 community investors working together at the Spiddle Hill wind farm in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, to produce clean electricity for local use, to the high-value jobs created for local contractors at the Caribou Wind Park near Bathurst, New Brunswick, to the research and development opportunities provided by the Wind Energy Institute of Canada and learning at the Interpretation Centre in North Cape, Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canadians are experiencing the social, economic and environmental benefits of wind energy. w
Spotlight: The Maritimes
Nova Scotia Paves Path For Growth Of Maritimes
By Shawna Eason
While Canadian provinces such as Ontario and Quebec garner most of the headlines, the provinces comprising Atlantic Canada continue to develop wind energy at a deliberate pace.
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