October 18, 2010
The Ecology Action Centre applauds the province of Nova Scotia for taking steps towards enhancing the abilities of average Nova Scotians to gain benefits from renewable electricity, by creating new community feed-in tariff (COMFIT) regulations and provisions for net metering.
However, the EAC encourages the government to not to lose sight of the bigger picture that undertaking renewable electricity is ultimately about mitigating greenhouse gases, increasing domestic energy security and creating sustainable prosperity for average Nova Scotians. In this respect the EAC believes the government has not shown enough creativity and leadership.
The EAC takes particular issue with the omission of solar energy from the community feed-in tariff.
Says Energy Coordinator Brennan Vogel, “By stating that solar PV is not cost-competitive or that it is still an emerging technology, the province is being misleading. By not including solar PV in the COMFIT we lose the opportunity to capitalize on Nova Scotia's existing solar industry and our natural solar advantage. Solar has great potential to help us build decentralized energy security and realize wide-spread economic benefits, in Nova Scotia.”
Recent experience in Ontario has shown that solar PV is possible through a feed-in tarrif model, given the right combination of policies and political will.
Says Vogel, “While we congratulate the government on this community-feed in tariff as it will help average Nova Scotians to gain benefits from renewable electricity, we are disappointed by the lack of leadership to pursue a broad-based FIT model that is inclusive of solar PV technology. We would hope to see greater emphasis on solar PV and solar thermal programs at Efficiency NS.” adds Vogel.
Ultimately, the EAC advocates that renewable electricity should be focused on the bigger picture of phasing out coal-based electricity production in favour of more sustainable and lower emitting sources. Further, the „de-facto‟ acceptance of large-scale forest biomass as a source of renewable electricity continues to be highly problematic and laden with controversy, as the recent approval of NSPI/New Page's 60MW demonstrates.
Says Wilderness Coordinator, Raymond Plourde: “In the previously released renewable electricity plan, government clearly used language around the need to proceed with caution with respect to the use of forest biomass. The new renewable regulations released today have no such cautionary note. This is very worrisome as it appears the government may be getting ready to approve even more large-scale forest biomass projects. Our forests can't take any more abuse. These sorts of decisions shouldn't even be taken until the new Forestry Strategy is released.”
While the province's 25%/2015 RE goal and 40%/2020 RE target are admirable, the province and electric utility have yet to articulate a clear strategy for the long-term transition away from coal-based electricity and exceeding NSPI's hard caps on emissions to meet the province's goal of 10% below 1990 GHG levels by 2020. Energy coordinator Vogel points out, “Nova Scotians deserve to know how government and the utility plan to address the province's greenhouse gas emission targets, which ultimately the purpose doing renewable electricity in the first place.”