Monday, July 9th, 2012
When you talk with Nova Scotians about wind energy, which I had the chance to do during a recent media tour that took me to 11 communities from Digby County to Cape Breton, invariably the discussion turns to the economy.
It is easy to see why. While I was there, the province was still reeling from the loss of hundreds of jobs from the closure of the Bowater Mersey paper mill on the province’s south shore. But at same time it was celebrating the completion of Sprott Power’s 31.5 MW Amherst Wind Project, which employed 150 people at the peak of construction, most coming from local Nova Scotia companies and trade union halls.
In those two events, and in the many conversations I had during the five days I spent making my way around Nova Scotia, I found a province looking to reinvent itself. Over and over again, I heard about the need to reignite the economy and create the kinds of sustainable jobs that will encourage its young people to stay and build lives in their home province. As Nova Scotia communities look at how they can contribute to that goal, wind energy is increasingly capturing their interest.
A big part of the reason is the way the provincial government has structured its renewable energy strategy. Its community feed-in tariff (COMFIT) program allows the Millbrook First Nation to create jobs for its members and earn millions in equity returns through its planned 6 MW wind farm. It also gives more than 300 local shareholders in Colchester County a chance to invest in turbines generating clean electricity on Spiddle Hill for their own use. These are just two in a long list of community projects in development that will complement larger commercial projects like Sprott Power’s Amherst wind farm and the 62.1 MW Glen Dhu Wind Farm in Pictou and Antigonish Counties. More than any other province, Nova Scotia sees the many opportunities presented by the varying models that can be used to develop its wind energy resource.
Perhaps because of that broad view and an inherited sense of innovation, I found Nova Scotians open to a thorough discussion about wind energy. While there are the usual questions about wind energy and its impacts that many people unfamiliar with the technology have, the people I spoke with were willing to look beyond those concerns, to have the big conversation about the benefits of wind energy in their own community. I found this heartening, and I think as Nova Scotia works to remake its economy by taking advantage of the many and varied resources that it has, it is this outlook and its sense of pride and innovation that will help Nova Scotia succeed.
Media Relations Officer
Canadian Wind Energy Association