The Long Term Plan For Nova Scotia’s Electricity Needs

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  • I read your recent article on the electric power scene in Nova Scotia right now, and it reminded me
    of several things. In the mid-Seventies my late friend George Baker, P. Eng., and I were working on
    an initiative for the now-long-defunct Nova Scotia Resources Council, a citizen advocacy group. We were putting together a submission regarding the Wreck Cove hydro project, at that time being proposed by what later became the Power Corporation. Conservation groups, fearing (rightly) for trout habitat, wanted the project stopped. George and I figured the job was a go in the mind of government, so we were advocating that the company, in consideraton of official approval of its proposal, be required to ante up some funds for wildlife preservation elsewhere. In summary, we failed.
    As we worked on that submission, George turned to me and said, “You know, Terry, what we ought to do in this province is build two, thousand-megawatt nuclear plants on one of those islands offshore Shelburne County. Plenty of cooling water available on the doorstep. One gigawatt for the province’s base load requirements (at that time just about one gigawatt), and the output of the other plant we could sell into New England for fifty years for a delicious markup, essentially making electric power relatively cheap for Nova Scotians (who, let’s face it, are a somewhat impecunious lot by North American standards).”
    It’s still a good idea, but let’s face it: nuclear power has been given such an atrocious black eye by hysterical media coverage (with the CBC firmly in the lead) that the general public in North America is
    in no mood for fission plants. This is even more regrettable given the superb safety regime of modern plants, and the fact that our CANDU reactors can stand confidently beside any nuclear generation technology.
    With the advantage of forty-plus years of hindsight, we can see that it might be better to take the output of the second reactor and use its heat output to generate hydrogen gas by means of a thermochemical process. As motive fuel, hydrogen is a better option than batteries in cold climates like ours.
    Response From Bill Black:-
    Responsible climate change activists will acknowledge that with today’s technologies a zero carbon future cannot be achieved without nuclear.
    That said the cost of nuclear is still high and prone to massive cost overruns whenever the technology or the builder is new to the scene. Places like Ontario and France do well because they have lots of plants and lots of experience.
    I doubt that it is a good idea for Nova Scotia because we have no experience and not enough demand to support a fleet of plants.

    Terry Pearson | January 6, 2021 | Reply

  • The counter to NS power providing a polite refusal is to remind them of what a utility rate is.
    Originally a utility was a creature of the government, established to provide what essentially was a rent.
    The rent was a price based on a return of the invested capital over the period of time that the asset was expected to last.
    Today, the cost of invested capital is very low and so the cost of its use should be lowered, i.e. the price that citizens should pay for it.
    Keep in mind please that if the cost of capital was increasing, NSP would be asking for an increase in their rates. N’est ce pas?
    Is that not in keeping with what capitalism is all about? Wayne

    Reply by Bill Black:
    Thanks Wayne. More particularly there was no reduction in the rate for capital as interest rates tumbled.
    The Maritime Link was not NSPI, the regulated utility but NSPML, an unregulated Emera subsidiary.

    Wayne Armitstead | December 12, 2020 | Reply