The debate over Muskrat Falls and Nova Scotia’s future energy needs has descended into the typical either-or political slugfest. Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out they’re both right?
The opposition has been hammering the NDP government this week about the mega-project in Labrador and the cost-versus-benefit of a proposed sub-sea cable link to Nova Scotia. Both the Liberals and Conservatives have cited reports they say contradict the claim that a partnership by Nova Scotia Power in Muskrat Falls hydro would be the lowest-cost option for this province.
Part and parcel of the debate is the potential of wind energy as part of Nova Scotia’s goal of more green, renewable energy.
Reference was made by the CBC to a report by Boston-based energy management consulting firm Levitan & Associates, Inc. for Nova Scotia’s consumer advocate. Experts testifying at the Utility and Review Board argued wind was the better option.
A casual scan of the province’s horizon reveals that Nova Scotia Power is continually expanding on wind farms. Proponents of wind are also urging the need for capacity to store energy – and various methods are possible. Winds tend to be higher during the night, so the storage is needed to provide the power during the day, when demand is greater.
Muskrat Falls, it’s been noted, would provide only about 10 per cent of the province’s future renewable energy needs. For the average Joe following this, it’s hard to see how this all adds up in the either-or scenario. Isn’t it looking like we’ll need both the hydro project and whatever wind can be developed?
Gauging future needs is always tricky. We don’t want to spend money on development that doesn’t need to be spent, but neither is it wise to sell ourselves short for coming decades. Running parallel with all this debate, we have an underpopulated province desperately trying to attract both new industry and new people. They aren’t going to come to a region with insufficient energy supply.