Premier Darrell Dexter may want Nova Scotia to become a global leader in green energy by 2020, but a lot can happen between now and then to derail those plans.
Still, you can’t blame him for trying.
Standing atop Dalhousie Mountain in Pictou County on Friday, near 34 giant wind turbines, the premier said his plan is among the most aggressive in North America in terms of growing the green energy sector.
It could represent a huge transformation in a province that still relies on fossil fuels for 90 per cent of its electricity supply with most of Nova Scotia’s energy coming from coal-fired generating plants.
If the government were to ask Nova Scotians if they would support a green strategy, the overwhelming majority would applaud the effort and do what they could to help. However, there is a point when Nova Scotians will reach their breaking point and begin pushing back and that’s electricity rates.
Electricity rates have already jumped by 30 per cent in just five years and there are many people out there struggling to heat and power their homes. Many are near the breaking point and probably a little apprehensive at comments that going green is not going to be cheap.
It is being suggested that going green will cost about $1.5 billion in both public and private investments. To many, the translation is higher power bills. Consumers can already expect to pay between $10 and $20 more for electricity every year between now and 2015 and there are few predictions of the cost beyond that.
There can be little doubt that we must become more environmentally responsible. We need to do it in our homes and our communities and we have to expect our government to be prepared to think of the health of our planet when making its energy decisions. However, government cannot keep going back to the public and saying it has to pay a little more here and a little more there to support green initiatives. That, in itself, threatens to turn off the public’s enthusiasm for going green.