Provincial Environment Minister Perry Trimper will address the annual gathering of the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA) Tuesday in St. John’s.
Yet businesses with ties to the so-called “green economy” may be more focused on the coming federal budget, than the speech by one of the association’s past presidents.
In a sit-down with The Telegram this past week, NEIA executive director Ted Lomond said both the federal and provincial budgets have been a focus of recent discussions and are very important to the year ahead.
On the federal side, he said regulations and the legislative agenda always have the potential to significantly affect member businesses. Wastewater regulations affecting municipalities, he said as an example, are providing new opportunities for member companies that deal with wastewater treatment systems. “I think, somewhere along the line in the process of trying to make these communities compliant, our companies are going to develop a tremendous expertise at providing low cost, easy-to-operate, innovative solutions,” he said.
More experience and proven utility for newer systems can lead to, or add to, export deals. And the NEIA recently met with the parliamentary assistant to the federal trade minister, he said, with those export opportunities in mind.
When it comes to the federal budget, having more federal dollars and federal programs accessible to local companies, to spur growth in green-economy businesses, is all the better for the province, Lomond said.
The goal, he suggested, is not to have supportive funding programs crossing over too much.
“If we’re doing (provincial) programming, let’s try to leverage federal funding, let’s not supplant federal funding,” he said.
“We’re very happy with some of the things we’ve heard Cathy Bennett talk about,” he added, specifically citing the call for innovative solutions to the province’s current financial challenges. Even moreso, he cheered the Liberal’s interest in promoting economic diversification, believing environmental industry businesses fit the bill.
Meanwhile, companies involved in the sale of power-generating products, like solar panel systems, are expected to see relief in the coming year, as net metering is finally introduced in the province. While the Progressive Conservative government studied the idea and suggested the required legislation in 2015, the details on net metering remain with the PUB and utilities Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, yet to be settled.