Rates offered just the incentive needed

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It’s more than just an abundance of wind in Nova Scotia that makes new incentives to communities to produce power a great idea.

Generating energy at the community level is now a realistic possibility with the advent of wind and solar technology – as compared to the past when production was consolidated to centrally located generation plants.

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board set the prices this week that small community-operated wind farms feeding energy into the grid will receive from Nova Scotia Power: 45.2 cents per kilowatt hour for small wind turbines with a capacity of 50 kilowatts or less. The regulator set rates of 13.9 cents per kilowatt hour for larger community wind projects with generators of over 50 kilowatts.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association applauded the move as a step toward making the province a leader in the field. Spokeswoman Emilie Moorhouse said the healthy rates will allow farming co-operatives or community groups to make a small profit.

This will represent a relatively small percentage of the green energy the province has set as goals, but still, in breaking from traditional patterns, it establishes a new, locally based model for energy production. When the coal- and oil-burning mega-plants were set up many decades ago, it was because that made the most sense.

Local energy sources, made possible by wind and solar production, have the advantages of reliability in the event of problems with the grid – along with greener energy.

We’ve seen resistance by communities in some instances to large-scale wind farms – for a variety of reasons. But these smaller operations, in the hands of local groups, profiting local efforts and involving more people, will raise interest and acceptability.

It will also be an educational process to see what goes into the development of this commodity we all take for granted.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, Nova Scotia Power, Canadian Wind Energy Association

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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