Yesterday, the Governments of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia released a joint statement on developing and transmitting clean, affordable and reliable power in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The statement includes a commitment from both provinces to net-zero electricity by 2035, a commitment to negotiating funding for the first phase of a “modified loop” to increase reliability of the grid and a commitment to additional funding for renewables such as wind and solar in Nova Scotia.
The Ecology Action Centre is pleased to see cooperation between the federal and provincial government to achieve a net-zero grid by 2035. After years of conversation around funding for interprovincial transmission, we are happy to see these three governments coming together to move forward with a firm commitment to cost sharing and a sense of urgency to act.
In Nova Scotia, the large shift from a grid which is 56 per cent coal, oil and gas in 2022 to a net-zero grid by 2035 will require investment. Nova Scotians are already taking advantage of the low costs of wind energy, which will begin to have a positive impact on electricity rates. It is encouraging to see the federal government recognize the work that will be required to make our grid both clean and reliable, and we are pleased to see funding commitments in support of transmission, storage and renewable projects to further address affordability concerns. However, we are disappointed to see in this agreement a focus on nuclear and biomass to address this transmission in New Brunswick and hope to see more investment in solar and wind as part of New Brunswick’s energy mix in the future.
Yesterday’s commitment notes that the full Atlantic Loop is not being considered. While it is disheartening that the full project will not go forward at this time, we are happy to see these three governments recognize the importance of improving grid reliability and pivoting to working on an agreement for the first phase of a “modified loop.”
With this new commitment, funding will be negotiated between provinces to build what would have been the first section of the Atlantic Loop, the Salisbury-Onslow Reliability Tie between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, by 2030.
We are encouraged to see the willingness to have further discussions on funding for additional transmission lines which would connect Nova Scotia to Quebec, New England and the rest of Atlantic Canada. Further transmission connections and capacity will allow us to access baseload hydropower from Quebec, which will support the transition to a grid with high renewable penetration. Additionally, connection to larger energy markets could provide significant economic opportunities to sell excess electricity from offshore wind as this industry develops in Nova Scotia.
The Nova Scotia government’s new commitment to a net-zero grid by 2035, in alignment with the federal government’s Clean Electricity Regulation, is particularly important in achieving an affordable, reliable and clean grid. We are happy to see Nova Scotia leading the way, and that collaboration to meet our climate goals is occurring between the federal government and our provincial government. We have difficult work ahead and we need to see this kind of collaboration continue as we address the climate and biodiversity crises.