Nova Scotia

Biomass project going ahead: NSP

Nova Scotia Power and the NewPage paper company in Port Hawkesbury announced Monday that they are going ahead with their plan to generate electricity by burning wood.

Nova Scotia Power and the NewPage paper company in Port Hawkesbury announced Monday that they are going ahead with their plan to generate electricity by burning wood.

The biomass project was approved last month by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, and the plant is expected to be up and running by early 2013.

The $208 million project is expected to create about 150 new jobs in northern Nova Scotia, primarily in the forestry sector.

Nova Scotia Power said it plans to burn wood waste — things such as bark, chips, and scrub logs — at the plant in Port Hawkesbury.

Newpage said the project will make the company a model of sustainability.

But Raymond Plourde, wilderness co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre, said the plan will lead to more clearcutting.

"There's going to be a focus on hardwoods where the focus has traditionally been on soft woods," Plourde said Monday. "If you drive around the Cabot Trail, and places like that, and look up at those beautiful hardwood hills, well, that's now fuel."

Natural Resources Minister John McDonell disagrees.

"To just purely associate the fact that you're going to cut more trees, and that would mean that it's going to be clearcutting, is not necessarily a reasonable association," he said

The Ecology Action Centre wants the government to halt the deal, or at the very least monitor the Newpage project before it allows more companies to clearcut in the province.

The government said it will have more to say about limits on clearcutting by the end of the week.

The UARB said Nova Scotia Power can proceed with its 40-year plan, but any cost overruns during the construction phase must be borne by the utility's shareholders, not by ratepayers.

The project could produce about three per cent of the province's total electricity, or enough to supply 50,000 homes.

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