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Cancellation of Renewable Energy Feed-in Program is disappointing, says Ecology Action Centre

by Robert Devet

Why cancel a successful program that encouraged renewable energy production, Catherine Abreu of the Ecology Action Centre asks. Hitting the pause button would have sent a much better message and accomplished the same short-term objectives. Photo NS Department of Energy.
Why cancel a successful program that encouraged renewable energy production, Catherine Abreu of the Ecology Action Centre asks. Hitting the pause button would have sent a much better message and accomplished the same short-term objectives. Photo NS Department of Energy.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) --  The Ecology Action Centre says that a program that encourages community-based renewable energy production should not be cancelled. 

The former NDP government initiated the Community Feed in Tariff (COMFIT) program in 2011.

The successful program made it economically feasible for smaller producers to generate renewable energy. It did so by guaranteeing a fixed price for the renewable energy fed into the provincial grid.

The provincial government will no longer consider new applications, a press release states. Continuing expansion will be too expensive, the government believes.

The time is right to take a breather, Catherine Abreu, energy coordinator at the Ecology Centre, tells the Halifax Media Co-op. Accommodating more renewable energy is difficult at this time and will drive up cost, she says.

But cancellation is the wrong move, she believes.

“The program has been extremely successful,” she says. “Government could have just left it as it was, and hit the pause button until there were more opportunities. Cancellation sends a really negative message.”

So why not just continue the program? Well, in a way COMFIT has become a victim of its own success.

“When the COMFIT program was announced the goal was to produce 100 megawatt of electricity. We are now at 80 megawatt being produced, and another 125 megawatt is expected to come on line over the next year,” Abreu explains.

“So there need to be a substantial investment in our grid. We need to make some advancements in storage potential. We need to see the Maritime Link come on line, and we need to improve the way we exchange energy with New Brunswick and our maritime neighbours,” says Abreu.

To what extent those investments materialize remains to be seen. Abreu hopes that a new government electricity strategy, to be revealed in the fall, will provide more clarity.

“I hope we will see a commitment to develop solar energy in the province. I'd like to find out how to involve Nova Scotians in large scale energy decision making in the future,” Abreu says. “I hope to hear how they plan to phase out fossil fuels from our energy system by 2035.”

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Topics: Environment
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