NS: Coal still king?

Alex Boutilier
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Metro Halifax

A proposed new agreement between the province and the federal government won’t require Nova Scotia Power Inc. to wean itself off coal-fired power.

[HALIFAX, NS] — A new agreement between the province and the federal government won’t require Nova Scotia Power Inc. to wean itself off coal-fired power.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent revealed in Halifax on Monday that Ottawa and the province are working on an equivalency deal for greenhouse-gas emissions.

The deal, once finalized, will allow Nova Scotia regulations to trump federal rules if the province achieves equivalent reductions in emissions.

“This will achieve the same greenhouse-gas reductions as the federal approach while at the same time providing Nova Scotia with the flexibility to take an approach that best suits its particular circumstances,” Kent told reporters.

It also allows NSPI to keep using coal-fired power plants.

Draft federal regulations would have required NSPI to close some older coal plants by 2015. NSPI president Rob Bennett said the move would have cost ratepayers “many hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The equivalency deal will not require NSPI to close any coal plants — allowing them to use coal power intermittently during peak hours and seasons.

“This allows us to make the best economic use of the assets that we’ve already invested in in Nova Scotia, and that helps us keep costs down while not exceeding the carbon limitations that have been put on by the province,” said Bennett.

Last year, 57 per cent of Nova Scotia’s energy needs were met by coal power, according to Bennett. That’s down from about 80 per cent only a few years ago.

The equivalency deal will not change the province’s stated goal of a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, according to the Department of Environment.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power Inc., Department of Environment

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Ottawa, HALIFAX

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  • paul campbell
    March 20, 2012 - 22:15

    Nothing good has ever come from mining coal. I have many family members dead because of that dammed mineral and it's ruining our environment, locally and globally. I'd love to never see it mined or burned again.

  • RealityCkeck
    March 20, 2012 - 18:37

    GETREAL, thankyou for confirming that this deal is really all about creating a market for Nova Scotia's high sulphur, high mercury coal that is banned in most countries and one of the reasons the mines were closed under emission regulations 10 years ago. For years Nova Scotia Power has said it is cheaper to import cleaner coal than upgrade the power plants, so exactly where does the technology exist to burn it reasonably cleanly, how much does it cost and who's going to pay for it? According to figures from Nova Scotia's Department of Energy and Nova Scotia Power and debates in the House of Assembly, 35% of the energy will still come from burning 2 million tonnes of coal/yr in 2030 in Nova Scotia. Donkin has sat approved but idle since the NDP were elected and have been blasting and strip mining "surface" coal instead and are about to lift a 6 year Moratorium on 13 more sites while refusing to ban mining in municipal watersheds. So where's the evidence that shows how Nova Scotia is going to reduce emissions at all at this rate, let alone by 25% by 2020?

  • Johnny smoke
    March 20, 2012 - 18:30

    Nice sediments, too bad that you are all wrong. N.S.P. with a return on investment of 9.6 to 9.9% or R.O.I. as it is better known, live in a guaranteed world thanks to the movers and shakers that we call the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia.Their return is based on the dollars invested not the the the production or distribution of electrical power. This is the simple reason why they jumped to get on board with the provincial government's hair brained idea to stick windmills all over the province, they increased their return on investment, and yours and mine power bill at the same time. I would love to know what politician benefited greatly by that deal, I could put forward a name but in doing so, the news would probably not print this. Meanwhile the persons in Trenton have to eat fly ash, the people in Evansville have to eat coal dust, however the people in Tufts Cove and Halifax in general enjoy smoke free, smog free, ash free,dust free emissions over their sacred city. Meanwhile N.S.P. pocket a return in the upper 9% range, from the money collected elsewhere and invested in keeping out capital and our politicians not only warm and fuzzy, but spotless as well.

  • getreal
    March 20, 2012 - 13:31

    Congratulations, Shadow. Amazing array of stats without a cogent conclusion. On to the point. Congrats to both the Federal and Provincial authorities on this one. NS has a natural advantage in very few resources, but coal is something we have in abundance. And much of it, like the resource at Donkin in Cape Breton, is very high energy. And the technology exists to burn it reasonably cleanly. Practicality, reason and objectivity are terms that can seldom be used to describe government actions. This announcement is a welcome exception to that rule!

  • The Shadow
    March 20, 2012 - 11:27

    Scott NSP is regulated by the utilities and review board and is a private company . There is indeed nothing illegal about return on investment . That is how the economy works. The Utilities and review board also regulates town owned utilities in Antigonish and Kentville that charge essentially the same price for electricity. Bodies that the utilities and review boards regulate is the municipal water and sewage treatment systems that also raise their rates on a continuing basis. No one seems to question the monopoly governments have on these infrastructure pieces held and controlled by public sector unions which often back mail the population with a strike like the recent transit strike in the HRM. Problem with people in this province is we have had our lifestyles subdized to a great degree for a while . IN the case of the government controlled transit system only 37 percent of revenues come from toll box collection while the bus drivers make about 33 per more then the per capita GDP. Without privatizing NSP there indeed would be a huge debt burden on the province for the Point Aconi and Trenton Power Stations plus the pension liabilities of the last decade or so we have avoided. A possible pension liability not unlike the teachers union, Dalhousie university and the civil servants that is in the billions. NSP would not be that big for pensions but better to have it on the private payrolls then on the public's. Also in the mix is the Dexter governments green energy commitment that they are compelling NSP to. Green Energy is highly inefficient for return on investment and thus a contributing factor to rising electrical costs in the province. Two pieces of advice . If you feel that you are getting ripped off by the power company go buy your own generation capacity at Canadian Tire. IF you want to take part in NSP then do what most intelligent people do , buy stocks in NSP. Nothing prevents you from doing either.

    • RegReader
      March 20, 2012 - 14:48

      No, there's nothing illegal about a return on investment... the problem most people have is the guaranteed return on investment... at over 9%. In today's market, without something illegal going on that is unheard of. It's nice that you may have the disposable income to purchase these stocks.... most of us do not.

  • scott
    March 20, 2012 - 10:55

    NSP will find away to make this bad news and raise rates again. NSP business practices should be found illegal. They trade on the open market ( which is supposed to have some sort of risk) but will guarantee a return. The only way to do this is to constantly raise rates. NSP will make excuses to raise them but report record earnings. Some suits need to be sent to prison.