HRM aims to buy a third of power from wind farms within the next three years

HRM aims to buy a third of power from wind farms within the next three years

Halifax Regional Municipality hopes to buy about a third of its power from wind farms by 2009 – the equivalent of lighting every street lamp in the city with renewable energy.

Jim Donovan, the city’s manager of economic development, said city staff will recommend council approve a plan to buy green energy.

“It can happen just as quickly as us having approval from council and then having facilities constructed,” he said yesterday.

There might be a catch.

The province plans to allow the kind of deal HRM is considering, but it hasn’t yet released the fine print – including how much of a cut Nova Scotia Power Inc. might get for clean power.

City-owned buildings and lights are expected to consume about $12 million worth of electricity by 2009. HRM energy auditor Julian Boyle said the plan is to sign an agreement to spend $4 million on green energy.

Emissions target

He said the plan would allow HRM to meet its own target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent, while hedging against the rising cost of power.

The city has already asked interested power suppliers to come forward.

Boyle said the top proposal will be included in a staff report that goes to council in the next few weeks.

HRM is the second important consumer to express interest in buying green power through what’s known as financial bilateral contracts.

Michelin announced plans last May to buy energy from a Canso-area wind farm.

The province plans to allow those agreements to go ahead. Allan Crandlemire, the province’s director of energy management, said the Department of Energy will release a discussion paper in the next few days that will outline how they will work.

Customers like HRM won’t actually buy power from a renewable producer, Crandlemire said.

Green credits

Instead, the city will buy green credits – an acknowledgment that it consumes clean energy.

If Ottawa implements the Kyoto Accord or a substitute emissions control plan, those credits could become valuable.

The wind farm will actually sell its power to Nova Scotia Power Inc., which will then turn around and sell it to its customers.

Crandlemire said if NSPI does not get the green credits, it needs some other incentive.

“Ultimately, it will come down to the price.”

Boyle said HRM has not decided what it might do with green credits. For it to go ahead, staff has to be able to show council that renewable energy is affordable.

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