NB Power's renewable energy target 'a numbers game,' critic says

NB Power says it's on track to meet the regulated target of 40 per cent renewable energy by 2020, but critics say it's nothing more than a numbers game under the current rules.

Utility could export non-renewable and buy green to meet goal without penalty, argues Chris Rouse

NB Power's target of 40 per cent renewable energy by 2020 may be little more than a game of numbers, critics say.

Mactaquac Dam is currently the most important renewable energy source owned by NB Power. (CBC)
But the utility says it's on track to meet the regulated target.

More than 30 per cent of its energy sold in-province is currently generated using renewable sources, such as hydro, wind and biomass, according to vice-president of business development and generation Keith Cronkhite.

Mactaquac Dam is the most important renewable energy source owned by NB Power, although its future beyond 2030 is still up in the air.

Renewable energy is also produced by eight smaller hydro plants, three wind farms and a biomass burning facility.

The remainder of NB Power's energy, however, comes from a combination of fossil fuels, such as oil at Coleson Cove and coal in Belledune, as well as nuclear energy at Point Lepreau.

Last year, the provincial government introduced a regulation called the Renewable Portfolio Standard in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It stipulates that NB Power must reach a target of 40 per cent renewables by 2020.

"That 40 percent renewable target would be associated with serving the load of those customers in the province," said Cronkhite.

Chris Rouse, of New Clear Free Solutions. (CBC)
Renewable energy advocate, Chris Rouse, of New Clear Free Solutions, contends that "in the province" condition means NB Power could potentially export some non-renewable power to another province and buy-in green energy to reach its target without being penalized.

"It's kind of really meaningless if we're just going to keep exporting our fossil fuel power," said Rouse. "And the other thing is it also includes hydro power form Quebec, so it's not really generated inside New Brunswick," he said.

"It really just seems to be a numbers game," said Rouse.

Green Party Leader David Coon agrees the goal is of reducing greenhouse gases is unlikely with the regulation as is.

"It was done in collaboration with the old government. Now that there's a new government, I think it needs to be upgraded," he said.

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