Nova Scotia’s energy strategy out of date: report

July 26, 2005

(HALIFAX) Nova Scotia needs to revise its energy strategy, according to a report released today the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA-NS).  "Securing our energy future: A review of Nova Scotia’s energy sector, 2004" examines the recent changes in the production and regulation of energy in Nova Scotia.  The report, prepared by Larry Hughes, a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Dalhousie University, addresses developments in the natural gas industry, offshore worker health and safety, electricity regulation, home heating programs, climate change, and energy security in Nova Scotia.
According to Hughes, “the original energy strategy released in 2001 was based on the development of natural gas.  But much has changed since then.  Sable gas production has decreased by about 37%, estimates of gas reserves have decreased by over 60%, and oil and gas exploration has decreased significantly.”

The decreased gas industry activity has, according to the author, resulted in some perhaps unforeseen consequences and higher risk development.  “The industry is”, according to Hughes,  “proposing riskier development, such as processing LNG [liquid natural gas] to fill the excess capacity resulting from the decreased Sable production.  The LNG will be imported into the Maritimes and processed for export to US markets.  It is indicative of the risk involved that a number of New England communities have rejected such development opportunities.”   

The provincial government’s efforts to stimulate the gas industry could have dangerous implications for workers, according to Hughes. “Offshore workers are still not afforded the same minimum level of health and safety protection as other workers in Nova Scotia.  Legislation introduced in 2003 has still not been passed and talk of eliminating regulatory 'red tape' could further jeopardize workers’ safety.”

“The Electricity Act passed in 2004,” says Hughes “while of little or no benefit to Nova Scotians, is extremely helpful to Nova Scotia Power Inc.  The Act addressed little in the way of conservation or energy efficiency, but focuses on making changes in Nova Scotia required by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow Nova Scotia Power to continue to sell electricity to the New England states.”   

The report finds that the “Keep the Heat” fuel assistance program for low income households is unsustainable and needs to be combined with the supports for greater heating efficiency and conservation.

The provincial government, according to the author, “has been aware of the need for action on climate change since the early 1990s and by 2004 has still not taken substantial steps.  And the province’s energy supply is vulnerable due to an increasing reliance on energy imports.” According to the Hughes “how we address the challenges of energy production and consumption has huge implications for all Nova Scotians.  It is therefore crucial that the provincial government engage in a broad public debate on the revision of the provincial energy strategy.”   


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact John Jacobs at 477-1252.