Wind turbines could soon be generating power for the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Jim Donovan, HRM’s manager of economic development, said staff is making a recommendation to council that the municipality purchase “a significant portion of our energy needs” from a wind energy supplier in Nova Scotia.
“I guess (it would be) the equivalent to lighting all of our street lamps,” Mr. Donovan told reporters Tuesday after appearing before the legislature’s standing committee on economic development.
He said bringing in the wind power, which he said isn’t expected to result in additional costs, is an investment in the future.
“A diversified range of energy sources is better for our economy. It’s more predictable than relying on a sole source of energy. I think Nova Scotia Power recognizes that and so do we,” Mr. Donovan said. “I think it would make our region more attractive to bring in new businesses if they didn’t have to rely on fossil-based fuel energy.”
Stephen King, manager of the sustainable environment management office with HRM, said the staff recommendation should be ready to go before council by the end of 2006, with the goal of bringing in wind power by sometime in 2007.
He said the municipality is keen on green energy, but has to make sure other matters, such as noise and view planes, are also considered. As well, he said there would have to be a land use policy for wind farms in HRM.
“I don’t think people would necessarily like to see a . . . one-megawatt wind turbine that’s 150 metres in height sitting in the middle of their subdivision,” he said.
NDP MLA Howard Epstein welcomed the idea of HRM using wind power.
“Anything that moves to allow more purchasers to look for renewable energy as their source will drive the system to encourage more small companies to get up and going and generate electricity that way,” he said.
But Mr. Epstein cautioned there will probably be “regulatory hurdles,” and perhaps legislation, to clear before green energy can be used.
He said the wind energy producer would have to use the transmission and distribution system of the monopoly operator, Nova Scotia Power.
“That’s the whole issue of whether independent power producers are going to be able to generate using renewables, and if so, whether they are going to be able to target particular customers and wheel through NSP’s transmission and distribution system,” he said
“That’s a very important public policy question in Nova Scotia and it’s bigger than HRM buying for its street lights and its own buildings.”
Liberal MLA Diana Whalen said the provincial government should be looking at ways to improve the regulatory environment for newer forms of energy.
In 2003, a government committee suggested “any seller offering electricity from renewable resources, using facilities constructed in Nova Scotia after 2001, be able to sell directly to electricity customers” but so far the province hasn’t put that recommendation in place.
Alan Crandlemire, director of energy management for the provincial Energy Department, said HRM could use wind power “in limited ways” without a change in regulations. He said the municipality could buy electricity with renewable content from Nova Scotia Power, or build its own wind generation on site.
“But they could not just go out and buy it from a wind supplier and use it in any location of their choosing without some changes to the current mechanism,” Mr. Crandlemire said. “What the rules prevent is the actual sale of electricity by other players (other than NSP).”
He said he’d be surprised if government doesn’t make legislative or regulatory changes around the issue of electricity at some point.
“How extensive that is or when that happens, I can’t predict,” Mr. Crandlemire said.
By Amy Smith, Provincial Reporter
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