Geothermal could be Springhill’s ticket to future

Published on June 14, 2013

Just as tidal power offers tremendous hope for the Parrsboro area, politicians in Springhill are hoping they’ll finally be able to take advantage of their community’s expansive geothermal resources.

Geothermal energy is not new and this is not the first time Springhill has made an attempt to grasp the opportunity that its former mining infrastructure presents. For nearly 25 years, various attempts have been made to develop and market Springhill’s geothermal resources. While several companies have used geothermal energy with varied benefits, for some reason it has never become the drawing card many thought it would be when the first pipe was sunk into Springhill’s former mine shafts.

Earlier this week, the province took a step toward helping Springhill’s geothermal infrastructure grow by opening the way for a municipal geothermal program – a first for Nova Scotia. The province has given the town permission to operate its own geothermal program that will provide underground water as an efficient energy source.

In making the announcement, Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar said the government hopes this program creates jobs for contractors, geothermal technicians and others by allowing the town to make geothermal energy a realistic alternate energy source for property owners and businesses.

Springhill Mayor Max Snow said the special lease should enable his town and its energy partners to control, develop and promote the resource and possible set up a utility that could provide financial and environmental benefits to the town.

The former mining town has seen more than its share of bad news in the decades since the last mines closed after the 1958 disaster. There have been fires, business closures and countless young Springhillers have left the community for economic opportunity elsewhere.

The town took a huge step forward when it entered into an energy authority with the county and Parrsboro several years ago, and there’s optimism that someday Springhill will be home to a geothermal industrial park. That’s something that would surely place the community in the spotlight for all the right reasons and perhaps give companies the reason they need to consider the former mining town as a place to do business.

Expanding the tax base through new business will ease the burden on taxpayers, and new jobs will go along way toward attracting new families to the community. If this were to happen, Springhill would become the vibrant community it was more than 50 years ago when coal was king. Coal would be king again, but for another more environmentally-friendly reason.