It's clear Premier Darrell Dexter isn't spoiling for a fight if Nova
Scotia Power Inc. fails to meet its mandated targets for
renewable energy over the next year.
The utility's ability to procure five per cent of its electrical needs
from renewable sources in 2010 was thrown in doubt Wednesday when the
province's regulator refused to endorse a proposal that would see it
burn waste wood to create energy.
Following the weekly cabinet meeting on Thursday, Dexter
refused to speculate about potential fines if the target isn't met,
saying he prefers to find solutions that would benefit both the utility
and the province.
He said potential answers could likely be found through a "fresh and new look" at the regulations governing green energy.
"I don't want to see that to be conflict-driven, I want to see a
way of incorporating and working with Nova Scotia Power and independent
power producers to get the best possible result," said Dexter.
Dexter said he sees so-called biomass as only part of the
solution as the province looks to bring in various sources of renewable
energy to reduce carbon emissions.
But he also warned that big challenges lie ahead as the
province tries to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint, not the
least of which could be proposed legislation in the U.S. that could
affect trade with Canada.
"They (U.S.) are looking at a process where there would
actually be potential sanctions for products that are produced with
energy they consider to be dirty energy," said Dexter. "Interestingly
enough, they don't consider hydro to be clean energy because of the
potential damaging effects of damming. . . ."
Opponents of NS Power's biomass deal with NewPage Port
Hawkesbury and Strait Bio-Gen have voiced concerns about the scope and
sustainability of the project.
Natural Resources Minister John MacDonnell told reporters he's
not opposed to the use of biomass, although the government still hasn't
settled on a policy regarding its use.
However, he is concerned about the potential effects of clear cutting on provincial lands.
"I see that (biomass) as having good potential . . . in terms of
carbon emissions and a renewable, sustainable source of fuel," said
"But . . . to turn the province into a moonscape to say that we've reduced our carbon emissions doesn't appeal to me."
Meanwhile, NS Power still hasn't commented on Wednesday's decision by the Utility and Review Board or about its next move.
Although the utility didn't need regulatory approval, officials
said during hearings held last month they wouldn't move ahead with the
biomass deal without the board's blessing.
The project would have provided 60 megawatts of electricity, or enough power for 50,000 homes, by June 2011.