ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – A ban on wind power that has been in place in the province since 2007 will be lifted within “weeks to months,” says Minister of Industry, Energy, and Technology Andrew Parsons, who announced the policy change in the House of Assembly Tuesday afternoon, April 5.
Parsons said it will allow industrial customers to generate wind energy for their own consumption and for export.
“This is a significant move in supporting our transition to a greener economy,” he said.
Parsons said the ban was a barrier to wind-power investment and development.
He said the province’s wind energy could be harnessed for industrial customers, for export through transmission lines, for the production and export of hydrogen and ammonia, and to supply energy to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
Parsons said his department has been engaged with a number of companies interested in exploring industrial development, and details on an approval process for wind-power development will be released “in the coming weeks.”
Speaking with reporters after the announcement, Parsons said there’s still a lot of policy work left to be figured out, but the government wants to signal to developers that the province is open for business on wind energy.
Parsons said there are no concerns about whether this will lessen demand for power from the the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development, or hike electricity rates.
“Doing this policy doesn’t change the issue that is Muskrat Falls, and a lot of the decisions we make still operate around that. So, that’s one of the things that we’re keeping in mind, and some of the policy that’s left to develop because we don’t want to cannibalize the system that we have here where now companies will say we’re going to develop our own instead of that,” said Parsons.
He said there’s “absolutely” going to be a lot of interest in wind-power development immediately because of this move.
Support across party lines
The announcement had support across the floor in the House of Assembly, with Progressive Conservative Ferryland MHA Loyola O’Driscoll calling it a good first step.
However, he said there are still unanswered questions, such as what the approval process will look like for companies that wish to set up a wind-power development, or whether a royalty on the energy generated will be collected by the province.
O’Driscoll suggested the College of the North Atlantic offer related training “so that this becomes an industry which can employ Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for many years to come.”
PC Interim Leader David Brazil told reporters there are a lot of details left to be outlined and explained, but his party supports the move. Labrador West NDP MHA Jordan Brown said it’s wonderful news, and shows the province can capitalize on opportunities for a just transition.
“We must ensure that any development is sustainable, energy sources remain public assets, and that their primary benefit and all benefits remain for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Brown.
The province’s announcement was specific to onshore wind energy. However, also on Tuesday, the federal government announced the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Energy Board has been given an expanded mandate to include the regulation of offshore renewable energy development, such as offshore wind and hydrogen.
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