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N.S. selects five wind projects to produce electricity from renewable sources

Nova Scotia has selected five wind projects in its largest ever procurement for low-cost renewable energy, each majority-owned by one or more Mi'kmaw communities.

The five projects are expected to generate 372 megawatts or 1,373 gigawatt hours per year of electricity, approximately 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's total energy consumption, the province's independent procurement administrator said in a news release Wednesday.

When the projects are complete in 2025, the province will be generating 70 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, the release said.

The average cost of energy produced by the wind projects is expected to be $53.17 per megawatt hour, which is lower than the average cost of electricity in Nova Scotia, the release said. The province expects the projects to save ratepayers $120 million annually.

  • Nova Scotia says ratepayers guaranteed cheaper renewable electricity in historic procurement

One of the projects is majority-owned by Wskijnu'k Mtmo'taqnuow Agency Ltd. (WMA) the economic development organization that represents all 13 Mi'kmaw communities in the province.

In an interview, WMA president Crystal Nicholas said the project — a joint venture with previous collaborator Natural Forces Development — is a "win-win."

  • Proposed wind farm could become Nova Scotia's largest

"They're providing green energy to Nova Scotia at a competitive price while also bringing economic and other benefits to 13 communities," Nicholas said.

She said the Hants County project will power about 13,000 homes and create over 370 jobs. She estimates the project will yield about $7 million in municipal taxes over the next 25 years.

The province issued a request for proposals in February, promising to deliver electricity at a rate at least 57 per cent cheaper than the discontinued COMFIT program, which charged ratepayers 13 cents per kilowatt hour.

The five projects selected are:

  • Benjamins Mill Wind near Falmouth in Hants County, developed by Natural Forces Development and WMA.

  • Ellershouse 3 Wind in Hants County, developed by Potentia Renewables and Annapolis Valley First Nation.

  • Higgins Mountain Wind Farm near Wentworth in Colchester and Cumberland counties, developed by Elemental Energy and Sipekne'katik First Nation.

  • WEB Weavers Mountain Wind near Marshy Hope in Pictou and Antigonish counties, developed by SWEB Development and Glooscap First Nation.

  • Wedgeport Wind Farm Yarmouth County, developed by Elemental Energy and Sipekne'katik First Nation

Environmental group applauds announcement, raises concerns

Kelsey Lane, a senior climate policy coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) in Halifax, applauded the announcement in a news release Wednesday.

"These projects show that the transition to renewables is more affordable than perpetuating the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity," Lane said.

But Lane said EAC is concerned that the proposed location of the Higgins Mountain project is in an area of the Wentworth Valley that has been deemed essential habitat for the endangered mainland moose.

"EAC has urged the provincial government to undertake a holistic approach to land-use planning ... when selecting the most appropriate sites for wind development," Lane said. "It is disappointing to see that this step has not been taken, and that this species-at-risk is being overlooked."

Lane said EAC is also urging the province to provide capacity to local governments for "public education and meaningful community engagement around the development of wind."

In an emailed statement, provincial Department of Natural Resources and Renewables spokesperson Patricia Jreige said the next steps for the projects include securing regulatory permits and approvals, and conducting environmental assessments, which involves community consultation.

"Assuming they all go forward, these projects will help us take a giant step toward our goal of having 80 per cent of our electricity supplied by renewable energy by 2030," Jreige said.

She said the projects will not contribute to an increase in power rates and each project will receive a 25-year purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power.

New projects 'important contributor,' NSP says

In an emailed statement, Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Mina Atia said the new projects will be an "important contributor" to the company's clean energy goals.

"We look forward to continuing to support the work of independent power producers, as they bring more wind energy onto the system," Atia said.

According to NSP's most recent data from 2021, 29 per cent of the province's energy came from renewable sources. Atia said the company expects that figure to reach 60 per cent when the province starts receiving consistent energy from Muskrat Falls.

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