“Three centuries of experience have done nothing to teach Nova Scotia governments how to use energy resources. Will the next 10 years be any different?”
So teases Dartmouth author Richard Starr at the recent Halifax launch of his challenging new book "Power Failure”.
Anyone who pays a power bill, either directly or through one’s rent, would like the answer to this question. The bills paid today result from decisions made decades ago, he said.
Starr said he wrote “Power Failure” as a “public Briefing Note to give readers a better sense of the background to the daily headlines about energy issues – and to give harried researchers a firmer footing than I had when faced with the complexity of the offshore back in 1997.”
And he goes back to 1720 in his easy-to-read 264-page book published by Formac. Originally he planned to consider events up to 2008 “ending with the Conservative Crown Share love-in (Rodney MacDonald and Peter MacKay smiling) on the waterfront.”
“But, I’ve had to include events up to the end of 2010 and point the question about the next 10 years at a government I worked to get elected,” said Starr, a respected journalist and veteran NDP researcher and political staffer.
While Starr acknowledges that politics will likely never be completely removed from energy decision-making, “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to lower the political temperature or open up the opaque and centralized process in which top politicians, utility executives and other business interests control the information and announce the decisions.”
“Planning and operation of a regional power grid should be turned over to an arm’s-length entity whose sole concern is the future energy supply in the region, not the next election or next quarter’s report to shareholders,” he said.
Starr’s audience included a sampling of the who’s who of the NS NDP past and present – Alexa McDonough, Robert Chisholm, Wendy Lill, Howard Epstein, Dan O’Connor, Bill Zimmerman, and Rick Williams -- and the Ecology Action Centre’s current director Mark Butler and past energy expert Brendan Haley.