David Coon concerned about Emera's plan to deliver N.B. wind energy to Massachusetts
Green Party leader says province needs a renewable energy strategy first to maximize local benefits
Green Party Leader David Coon is raising concerns about Emera Inc.'s proposal to deliver 900 megawatts of wind energy and hydro power from Atlantic Canada to Massachusetts by 2022.
If successful, the main source of that power would be five wind farms in New Brunswick.
"I'm concerned that this is going forward in the absence of any kind of well thought out New Brunswick strategy for developing renewable power and other sources of renewable energy in the province," that would maximize the benefits for local economies, said Coon, who is also the MLA for Fredericton South.
"We've heard so little from this government about what its plans are with respect to renewable energy in the province it's just very worrisome."
Although New Brunswick has abundant wind resources, the best sites are a limited resource," said Coon.
"We don't want to be left in a situation where our best sites are taken up by these private initiatives for export when we still haven't got a made in New Brunswick renewable energy strategy."
"The current government hasn't even restored the renewable energy branch that was eliminated by the former government of David Alward, so you can see in a way where this sits on the priority list for the current government — and that's not very high."
Coon said the select committee he sat on, which held public hearings across the province last year, clearly heard from New Brunswickers that they wanted NB Power to be required to place more emphasis on wind and solar energy.
"So we recommended that government bring in policies and legislation that would do just that — that would essentially put in place a renewable energy strategy and give NB Power a mandate to … turn up renewable energy production, and turn down the burning of oil and coal as they still do to generate electricity," he said.
"That has not happened and we're still waiting for some kind of action."
"That's going to require concerted effort that starts now," he said. "This has got to be an integral part of that and that's what we heard from the public when we did our hearings."
Earlier this year, the New Brunswick government said it was looking into building a hydro station in Grand Falls to produce more clean energy.
But NB Power's Marie-Andrée Bolduc has said that Grand Falls is not involved in the Emera bid.
Salmon River, Black Spruce, Colborne, Silver Brook, and Andy's Pond are the New Brunswick-based wind farms under Emera's proposal, while the other two, Yorkshire and Higgins Mountain II, are in Nova Scotia.
NB Power and Nalcor Energy in Newfoundland and Labrador would be the two hydro suppliers.
If Emera's bid is successful, the power would be transmitted through a 600-kilometre undersea cable, under a project named Atlantic Link.
It would start from a new DC converter station planned at Coleson Cove in Saint John and terminate in Plymouth, where Massachusetts's only nuclear plant, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, is scheduled to shut down in June 2019.
Gerald Weseen, Emera's vice-president of U.S. government affairs, said the construction phase of the project would create more than 7,000 jobs in New Brunswick and add $1.2-billion to the province's GDP.
The project would be in-service by December 2022 after a three-year construction period.
Massachusetts has legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets and is actively seeking cleaner sources of energy to meet them.
In March, the state issued a request for proposals to deliver an annual amount of electricity equal to about 9,450,000 megawatt hours. Emera's proposal is one of many responses to that.
With files from Information Morning Saint John