Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia biomass projects in 2016 could be halted

Nova Scotia's Department of Energy wants to know if halting some biomass projects in 2016 would lower the province's ballooning green energy costs as it reassesses small scale renewable energy projects over the next 60 days.

Department of Energy has asked N.S. Power what the impact would be on renewable energy costs

Energy Minister Michel Samson would not say which biomass projects are under the gun. (Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's Department of Energy wants to know if halting some biomass projects in 2016 would lower the province's ballooning green energy costs as it reassesses small scale renewable energy projects over the next 60 days.

"This falls into what we are going to do. Those decisions will be made within that time frame," Energy Minister Michel Samson said.

Earlier this month Samson killed Nova Scotia's community feed in tariff - or COMFIT - program.

It enabled community based renewable energy projects like wind or wood burning biomass plants to sell electricity to Nova Scotia Power at a guaranteed rate, much higher than the cost of electricity generated by burning coal.

"Nova Scotians have told us they want a mix. They don't want power rates to go up," says Samson.

His department has filed an information request asking Nova Scotia Power what the impact would be on renewable energy costs if ten megawatts of biomass projects, currently approved, are not constructed in 2016.

Samson would not say which biomass projects are under the gun.

NSP expects fuel bill to balloon

"Its a matter of looking at what approvals are outstanding, what state of development they are in and decisions will be made," he said.

Cape Breton Explorations was planning to build the six megawatt Harbourside biomass plant in Sydney next year.

CBEX President Luciano Lisi says he does not believe the project will be affected.

Nova Scotia Power has warned its fuel bill will balloon by $111 million in 2016 because of renewables. It attributes $83 million of that to green energy mandated under COMFIT.

The Department of Energy also wants to know the potential impact of the South Canoe and Sable wind farms on power bills.

NSP is a minority owner of both and says buying electricity from them will add $27 million to its fuel bill next year.

NSP spokesperson Bev Ware says the utility does not expect fuel costs to trigger a rate hike application for 2016, but the company has not decided whether it will seek a hike on other grounds.

She says NSP will respond to the Department of Energy information requests in a filing with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board which will hold a hearing into NSP's fuel bill in October.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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