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Province going public with draft energy plan  

The provincial government is preparing to go to Islanders with a draft proposal for an energy strategy that would see the province set a framework for dealing with the challenges of greenhouse reduction targets and skyrocketing fuel costs.

George Webster, minister of environment, energy and forestry, spoke recently to a meeting of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, telling them the Island is hoping to secure its energy future both by reducing its own energy appetite and by diversifying the sources from which P.E.I. draws its power.

“There is absolutely no question that the most cost-effective way to reduce energy costs is to reduce energy demand through energy efficiency measures,” Webster said in the meeting’s opening speech.

He said the province has finished an energy efficiency potential study and will be looking for input from the public and the business community on ways they’d like to see the province push for greater efficiency.

He said recent studies suggest 90 per cent of Canadian business would like to see government do more to promote energy efficiency and support research on new energy sources.

Webster said both the energy efficiency effort and the options for energy diversification would be dealt with in a new energy efficiency strategy that government hopes to unveil this spring. Consultants MRSB of Charlottetown are working on a draft strategy that should come out in December and government plans to go to Islanders for feedback and advice.

“That public input will be a critical piece,” the minister said. “We want to hear from individual Islanders, from business owners and other interested groups. We will then incorporate that feedback and finalize a new energy strategy by next spring.”

Webster said the province is serious about widening its sources of energy. Fossil fuels now account for 80 per cent of the energy consumed in the province as a whole, a source that becomes less appealing with the cost of crude oil topping $90 a barrel this week.

The last energy strategy for the province was delivered in 2004 by then-minister Jamie Ballem. That document called for greater development of renewable energy sources, including a proposal to encourage rapid expansion of wind energy production. Wind now accounts for some 70 megawatts of electricity capacity, with a further 79 megawatts in the works at Ventus Energy’s wind farm project in West Cape.

By Ron Ryder

The Guardian

13 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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