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Five community-based energy projects get OK

DIGBY – The first five community-based green energy projects for Nova Scotia were announced Friday in Digby by Energy Minister Charlie Parker.

Approved under the government’s new Community Feed-In Tariff program are:

•Fundy Tidal Inc.: a 1.95 megawatt tidal power project in Digby County, which will create electricity from the tidal currents in the Bay of Fundy that pass through Grand and Petit Passages, which separate the mainland and islands at the tip of Digby Neck.

•Colchester-Cumberland Wind Field: a project that will create a small, 50-kilowatt wind generating project near Tatamagouche.

•The District of Chester: a large, 2.3-megawatt wind project at the Kaizer Meadow landfill facility.

•Northumberland Wind Field: a small, 50-kilowatt wind project near Avondale, Pictou County.

•Watts Wind Energy: a large, four-megawatt wind project near New Minas.

“This approval stage represents one of many steps,” for the project proponents, Parker said.

“Applicants will now need to secure the required financing, develop a grid impact study and complete the required federal and provincial environmental assessments . . as required.”

The feed-in tariff program allows small-scale power producers to receive an established price per kilowatt hour known as a feed-in tariff. The rate government will pay for tidal power is 65.2 cents per kilowatt hour, while large wind projects will get 13 cents per kilowatt hour and small wind projects will garner 49.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

The rates were previously approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board and are set for the next 20 years.

Having them set for 20 years means supporters of dozens of small projects can put business cases together to begin generating electricity, Parker said.

The province was encouraged by the number of community groups and small business that want to do their part in Nova Scotia’s transition to renewable energy, said Parker.

“We’ve received 88 locally based proposals from more than a dozen community groups from every region of Nova Scotia,” the minister said.

“We aim to have a majority of the remaining applications processed by the spring and another batch of approvals announced early in the new year.”

Parker said the feed-in tariff program is “the first of its kind anywhere in the world.”

“The plan focuses on diversifying our energy sources including tapping into the abundant supplies of renewable resources contained in our wind, our rivers, our tides and our forests,” he said.

“Renewable projects have the advantage of a never-ending, freely available fuel supply. That means that the cost to produce this stays steady over time and helps to really stabilize our energy rates.”

Electricity produced by the project “will be shared throughout the local distribution system,” the minister said.

Those eligible for the program include municipalities, co-operatives, non-profit groups and First Nations.

The program will help the province reach renewable electricity targets of 25 per cent renewable electricity by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020.

The province expects 100 megawatts of electricity to be produced through the program, which is enough to power about 100,000 homes said Parker.