The Beyond Coal Atlantic team warmly invites you to our upcoming webinar exploring how energy democracy empowers ordinary citizens to participate in the energy decisions that affect their daily lives—while also creating stronger, more resilient communities.
Our special guest will be Greg Gaudet, the Director of Municipal Services for Summerside Electric, PEI’s only municipally owned and operated power utility.
Why are we talking about Energy Democracy?
Not long ago, Nova Scotia Power Inc. (a subsidiary of Emera Inc.) issued a strong reminder that it operates in the interest of its corporate shareholders. This reminder came in the form of a general rate application that Nova Scotia Power made to the NS Utility and Review Board. Among other things, Nova Scotia Power planned to introduce a new system access fee, which almost crushed the solar industry in the province.
While public outcry resulted in a reprieve for the solar industry and homeowners who want to install solar arrays, it is only a reprieve. And Nova Scotia Power has a lot more in store for the people of this province, including a 10 percent rate hike for residential customers and even higher increases for small businesses.
So what’s the solution? How do we tackle the rising cost of electricity, which is exacerbating energy poverty, and at the same time reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to tackle the climate crisis barreling towards us?
Some have suggested the answer is to make NS Power a Crown corporation again. Folks living in New Brunswick or Newfoundland and Labrador likely get a good chuckle whenever they hear that.
After all, NB Power is carrying a $4.9 billion debt (equal to 94 percent of the utility’s equity), and it’s backing the province’s plans for costly energy unicorns called small modular nuclear reactors.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Crown corporation Nalcor Energy is behind the Muskrat Falls mega-dam project (aka “boondoggle”), which has been ten years (so far) in the making. According to the consulting group the province hired to keep an eye on the project, new defects found in the transmission software could delay it by another year or more. On top of being years behind schedule, the project is also significantly over budget ($6 billion over budget as of September 2020). But even if this project were within budget, that still would not make up for the mega-dam’s harm to Indigenous communities and the environment. Oh, and guess what? Nalcor (now part of NL Hydro) is planning to build another mega-dam (Gull Island Project) that would be twice as big as Muskrat Falls!!
Fortunately, there are better alternatives to private monopolies than Crown corp models—and some of them are already operating right here in the Atlantic region. But don’t take our word for it. Take our quick quiz, instead.
Join us on Wednesday, June 22, at noon Atlantic Time to learn about municipal power utilities and cooperatives and how these models can support local energy democracy and accelerate the transition to clean renewable energy. A recording will be available after the event.
Want to read more about energy democracy? Check out this article by Colin Roseart: How do we take our power back?
Saved by Direct Action!
A big shout out to all who worked so hard to stop the sale of Owls Head Provincial Park to an American developer who wanted to build golf courses and resort accommodations on it. Yesterday, the NS government finally announced it will be officially designated as a provincial park. Read about it here.
The big question remaining is: Why did it take almost 50 years of consultation, study, and advocacy to get this result for Owls Head?
—The Beyond Coal Atlantic team
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The Atlantic Chapter of Sierra Club Canada is located in the territory of the Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Wolastoqiyik, Beothuk, Innu, and Inuit. We stand in solidarity.