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Nova Scotia Power pulls plug on wind project

BLACK RIVER, Inverness County – A multi-million-dollar six-megawatt wind project has been cancelled by Nova Scotia Power Inc.

Black River Wind Ltd. president Neal Livingston said Wednesday the utility cancelled the $14-million project that would have seen five turbines erected this fall and next year.

He said a disagreement over the dollar amount of a $150,000 performance bond to be deposited to NSPI by his company was at the centre of the dispute.

Livingston said he is considering legal action.

He said the absence of a “standard offered contract” renewables policy in Nova Scotia, similar to Ontario, is allowing the utility to dictate terms.

“This is an environment in which monopoly players determine all the rates and conditions.”

NSPI spokesperson Margaret Murphy said the corporation gave Livingston extra time to come up with the money for the bond.

It would have been unfair to other wind power producers to have given Black River more time, or to have agreed to a lower rate per megawatt of power produced, she said.

Livingston said the company spent more than $300,000 on federal and provincial environmental assessments, wind testing and public meetings.

NSPI is not paying a realistic price for wind power relative to what it is worth for independent producers similar to what is happening in Ontario, he added.

“We feel there is a need for government to have a role in this. This is a very important example of why we need a properly regulated system for renewable energy in the province.”

Livingston said the wind project took three years to plan and was to be located in two areas of Inverness County and one area of Pictou County.

Livingston explained they received a draft contract from NSPI in 2003, and at the time there was no discussion of performance bonds.
That changed when NSPI wanted guarantees on environmental work, wind testing and sites confirmed.

When NSPI advertised a contract offering it included a performance bond.

“We said that was kind of unfair because they told us one thing and did another.”

He wouldn’t pay the $150,000 – three times the agreed to bond – to guarantee the completion of the project.

By Wes Stewart
the Cape Breton Post