AMHERST – A provincial MLA has been on tour with Energy Minister Charlie Parker telling people about the provincial government’s strategy to diversify our energy sources and stabilize prices long-term.
Mat Whynott, who represents Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville, spoke at an afternoon event Tuesday hosted by the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce. The small room at the Four Fathers Memorial Library was filled to capacity. Among the crowd were councilors, local MLA hopefuls, and Warden Keith Hunter, as well as a representative of Sprott Power – owners of the marsh’s wind turbines – and Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar.
“We’ve had years of double-digit increases (in power rates),” said Whynott.
The MLA laid out an energy strategy that focuses on a number of factors: diversification of energy sources, instead of being tied to a single source, such as coal; green energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as mandated by federal targets; increased regional cooperation to ensure power in the case of local disruption; and development of long-term energy sources with stable pricing, such as the Maritime Link, which would see electricity cabled to Nova Scotia via Newfoundland from Muskrat Falls in Labrador.
While Parker wasn’t in attendance at the presentation, his deputy minister, Murray Coolican, spoke to the assemblage.
Coolican said investing in building the Maritime Link will cost Nova Scotians, on average, less than a one per cent increase in their power bills for each of the subsequent five years, after which energy prices would be stable or go down – a locked in price for decades after an initial outlay.
Skabar said when he first heard the idea, he thought it was a no-brainer.
“Why wouldn’t we do that?” he said rhetorically.
“This is a project about the future,” said Whynott.
The MLA said Manitoba, B.C. and Quebec enjoy some of the lowest power rates in North America, and it’s because of their investments in ‘green’ energy.
“We can’t lag behind anymore.”
Prior to the presentation, the Progressive Conservative party’s MLA candidate, Judi Giroux, said the government hasn’t been forthcoming enough.
“I’m hoping to hear a clear message of what the plan is,” she said. “What will the price be per kilowatt?”
In the wake of the presentation, Giroux expressed doubts about how stable rates would actually be, questioned if the government has been forthcoming with all the project’s expenses, and wondered why the meeting was held during work hours, instead of in the evening.
“Perhaps they were hoping for a small turnout,” she said.
Warden Hunter is quoted in a press release praising the province for moving away from “imported” energy and moving towards greener technology.
“Cumberland is pleased to be playing a role in making this happen through initiatives such as the installation of a SolarTron Concentrator at the municipal building and the creation of the Cumberland Energy Authority,” he said.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board’s public hearing on the Maritime Link begins May 27. Emera Inc. would be building the subsea link between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland at a cost of $1.5 billion.