Monday, January 27, 2014

Timing Right for Comprehensive Energy Review

Energy markets are changing, not only in Nova Scotia but around the world. Smaller players are entering markets, regional co-operation is growing, efficiency standards are impacting load, and new renewable energy options are changing the environmental landscape of electricity generation.

At the same time technologies are impacting how we think, distribute, and use electricity. All of this impacts Nova Scotians.

Earlier this month, I launched the first comprehensive review of our electricity system in over a decade. The time is right to do this. We are on the verge of new import and export opportunities, and opportunities for research and economic development associated with the energy market.

Nova Scotians are understandably concerned about power rates. So, of course, no discussion about the options available to Nova Scotians would be complete without understanding the rate impacts of various decisions. We also must understand the economic, social, health and environmental impacts.

The outcome of the review process will be informed by Nova Scotians and I welcome your ideas, big and small. Whether it's performance standards, the role of conservation, smart-grid options, possible environmental targets, or the economic opportunities from exporting technology and electricity, everything will be on the table for discussion.

The review is governed by the Electricity Reform Act, which was passed Dec. 12. That bill also legislated the framework so renewable energy producers can access the grid and sell to customers. Those opportunities are already taking shape.

The legislation requires us to complete the review in a specific timeframe. Nova Scotians want a chance to be heard, listened to, and their ideas properly considered, but I also know Nova Scotians demand that we not spend years discussing the issue. The timeframe of the review seeks to balance those needs. Many of you have already contacted us with ideas and suggestions about our electricity future. We are eager to hear from you.

We also welcome your feedback on the scope of the consultations. Nova Scotians should have a range of opportunities and options to contribute to the review, so engagement over the next year will include expert-led forums, online tools, and a range of public engagement tools.

This is about Nova Scotians partnering to think about and consider the options for the electricity system. We are committed to working with all Nova Scotians on the future of Nova Scotia's electricity system.

Comments on the scope of work for the review can be submitted until Feb. 7, so please have your say athttp://novascotia.ca/electricityfuture/ .