I write regarding the recent events concerning electricity supply in Newfoundland.
Our non-governmental environmental organization, Sierra Club Canada, has long been an advocate for green renewable energy options. Over the past few decades, we have made presentations to many provincial and state governments across North America regarding this area of interest.
In that context we offer the following recommendations which have been proven successful in other jurisdictions and which we believe will assist the Newfoundland and Labrador government and its citizens in developing a more stable and reliable electricity delivery system.
These recommendations include:
‰ The creation of an off-peak electricity rates program to spread the load demand on the electricity grid more evenly. This program would be open to all ratepayers and has been shown elsewhere to have been of particular benefit to low-income earners and those on fixed incomes. A good working example of this program can be found in the province of Ontario.
‰ The establishment of a Newfoundland and Labrador energy efficiency agency with a mandate to promote and administer energy conservation and efficiency programs in the province. This energy conservation and efficiency agency would be charged with conducting energy efficiency audits of homes and commercial, industrial and institutional buildings across the province to develop a provincial energy-efficiency inventory. Where necessary such audits would be followed by energyefficiency retrofits. The agency would set targets for its energy audits and retrofits, and where necessary, make recommendations for improved building code standards.
‰ There is a distinct conflict of interest between the mandate of Nalcor and the policies of energy conservation and efficiency. Nalcor is the provincial Crown corporation charged with producing and selling electricity to Newfoundland and Labrador ratepayers. The goal of energy efficiency and conservation is to reduce the amount of electricity being purchased by ratepayers as an energy efficiency and conservation measure. It is essentially against the mandate of Nalcor to actively support energy efficiency and conservation, as it runs directly against its goal of selling as much electricity as possible. It is for this reason that many jurisdictions have found it necessary to establish energy-efficiency agencies as a tool to make this public utility more effective for its consumers, the ratepayers.
‰ Support for small-scale independent electricity production to reduce dependence on one electricity production source. We also request that the government of Newfoundland and Labrador repeal Bill 61 and pass feed-in tariff legislation. This will permit local production and sale of green renewable electricity and foster the growth of energy efficient technologies and industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.
‰ Support for local green energy manufacturing industries, specifically Cansolair (this Newfoundland made product has been internationally successful for over 15 years with little, if any, provincial recognition) and the wind-energy technology companies. This province has good localized solar potential and the strongest and most reliable wind-energy supply in North America with hardly any solar- or wind-generated energy. This needs to change.
The world of electricity generation has changed dramatically over the past few decades. The establishment of a Newfoundland and Labrador energy efficiency agency combined with off-peak rates are two pieces of energy infrastructure needed to move Newfoundland into having a secure, diverse energy production industry which can support the development of other small and medium sized industries in the province while providing energy security for the province’s population.
Fred Winsor is conservation chair of the Atlantic Canada chapter of Sierra Club
Canada. He writes from St. John’s.