Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia – Today the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables announced several new wind energy projects that will add approximately ten per cent more renewable electricity to Nova Scotia’s grid. The province awarded a total of five projects to the communities of Cumberland and Colchester County, Pictou and Antigonish County, Hants County, and Yarmouth County.
All projects are majority owned by Mi’kmaq bands of Nova Scotia and are expected to reduce more than one megatonne of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually. The projects are also expected to reduce the cost of electricity for Nova Scotian rate payers by more than $100 million per year compared to burning coal for the same amount of electricity.
“These projects show that the transition to renewables is more affordable than perpetuating the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity – a point that the Ecology Action Centre has been reiterating as one of the many benefits of increasing renewable energy generation in the province,” says Kelsey Lane, senior climate policy coordinator with EAC. “Overall, the procurement of renewables is a good step forward for increasing affordability and reducing emissions from the electricity sector.”
However, EAC is concerned to see that one of the five approved projects is proposed for an area of the Wentworth Valley that is designated as essential habitat for the endangered mainland moose.
“EAC has urged the provincial government to undertake a holistic approach to land use-planning, which would consider all the needs and pressures on the landscape when selecting the most appropriate sites for wind development,” says Lane. “It is disappointing to see that this step has not been taken, and that this species-at-risk is being overlooked.”
EAC is also urging the provincial government to provide capacity to local governments for public education and meaningful community engagement around the development of wind. Lane says that the provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that these wind projects benefit communities equitably so that no one is left behind in the transition to renewable energy.
“Given the climate emergency we are facing, we have to end the burning of fossil fuels as quickly as possible,” says Lane. “But our transition to a fair and sustainable economy must not only shift what we build, but how we build it. New ways of generating electricity must not perpetuate old practices that have created so much inequity in our communities and have landed us in the climate and biodiversity collapse crises we find ourselves in today.”
Although these projects will contribute to reducing GHG emissions, Lane stresses that Nova Scotia still has a long way to go before the province is on track to appropriately addressing the climate crisis.
“In addition to adding more renewable sources of electricity to the grid, it is important that we invest in energy efficiency, interregional connections and energy storage – all of which play a critical role in decarbonizing our electricity,” says Lane. “This set of projects is a step towards giving Nova Scotians and their families access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity. Research shows us that a switch to clean electricity is not only possible, it will also benefit health, affordability and our chance at a better future.”