Communities are focus of plan

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It might be coming piece by piece. But change is in the wind for the way energy is supplied in Nova Scotia.

Many will have heard about the province’s Community Feed-In Tariff Program. On Tuesday, the premier and other politicians were in attendance for the launch of the first such community project for renewable energy – a wind turbine at the Forbes Lake water treatment facility that serves New Glasgow. It will be producing power by April, with electricity to be purchased by Nova Scotia Power – thus reducing consumption costs for communities that take part in the program.

Other similar-size projects are underway elsewhere in the province. Another startup was marked in Earltown for a site in Spiddle Hill.

With the intention to move away from power generation traditionally relying on fossil fuels, the Feed-In Tariff program, or COMFIT, provides part of that bigger picture of clean generation.

These sources, granted, are under six megawatts. But the pitch is that the projects be community owned, with the bulk of energy consumed locally.

Considering the volume of press we’re seeing lately about the proposed Nova Scotia link to the Muskrat Falls hydro project, the COMFIT program is bound to attract attention as quite a different approach to supplying needs.

While the community program is vastly different from the mega-project proposed in Labrador, it is interesting to note what the latter potentially means to Nova Scotia. It is estimated it would provide only up to 10 per cent of this province’s needs. That leaves a long way to hit targets in place for renewable energy.

One of the advantages to the COMFIT approach is the relatively modest size of projects. The earlier model for power production was the generating plants we’re used to – massive, centralized and serving a huge area.

These community projects offer the possibility of many more localized power sources of smaller magnitude. It will mean more community involvement, community ownership and – as it develops – prices that don’t spike depending on fuel prices.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Nova Scotia.Many, Nova Scotia, Forbes Lake New Glasgow Labrador

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