Prices have been set to encourage community-based, independent power producers to sell renewable energy to Nova Scotia Power.

The rates, known as community feed-in tariffs, were announced Monday by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

Ratepayers will pay premium prices for electricity produced by small wind and tidal turbines, as well as small-scale biomass and hydro projects.

The highest rate — 65 cents a kilowatt per hour — is for developers of small tidal projects.

Dana Morin said it's the first feed-in tariff for tidal energy in the world. He heads Fundy Tidal, which is relying on a community economic development fund to help finance a project in Digby Gut.

Direct access important

"In order to have a business we have to be able to sell the electricity. So the feed-in tariff provides direct access to that at a rate that will allow us to get started here in Nova Scotia," said Morin.

These community projects are expected to supply about four per cent of all of Nova Scotia's energy, or no more than 100 megawatts.

Because that amount is low, independent producers say consumers should not see power rates rise as a result.

Consumer advocate John Merrick isn't so sure, however. He points out that the switch to renewable energy sources from 12 per cent now to 25 per cent in three years is costing consumers.

The province's own estimate puts it at one to two per cent more each year during the transition.

The rates will be reviewed in three years.