Renewables Tour – Spring 2019

Over the winter, I toured the province to better understand what barriers exist to expanding the use of renewable power in New Brunswick. A growing number of municipalities and First Nation communities are looking to utilize renewable sources of electricity. This would reduce the costs of their power bills, contribute to local economic development, and help reduce their carbon footprint.

During the tour, I met with mayors, councillors, municipal electric utility executives in Saint John, Perth-Andover and Edmundston, solar energy entrepreneurs, home builders and designers. I also made a point of visiting solar, wind and micro-hydro power facilities. I met willing buyers for renewable power, as well renewable energy developers and renewable energy investors.

Since then, Saint John Energy has tendered a contract to generate wind power themselves at a price much cheaper than it costs to purchase electricity from NB Power.

The potential for expanding the use of renewable power in New Brunswick currently rests on NB Power’s willingness to purchase power from local renewable power producers. They have done so in the past but have little interest in acquiring more renewable power. The future of renewable power in New Brunswick depends entirely on the willingness of NB Power to buy and re-sell that power. This has stopped the further development of renewable power, despite proposals from numerous municipalities throughout New Brunswick.

To address this barrier, I tabled a bill to make a small amendment to the Electricity Act that would allow municipalities and First Nation communities to buy electricity from community-based renewable power producers, paying NB Power for the use of their power lines. Unfortunately, my bill was defeated at the Legislature during the committee stage.

Another barrier to expanding the use of renewables is structural. Currently the only energy development group in the Department of Energy and Resource Development is mandated to develop petroleum resources, not renewable energy resources. It is essential that Minister Mike Holland establish a Renewable Energy Development division in his department.

Our Principles

>Living within Our Ecological Means

A culture of cooperation, caring and understanding is essential to ending violence in our society. Rehabilitation rather than vengeance must be the goal of our justice system.

> Local Self-Reliance

We must have the opportunity and the responsibility as citizens to contribute to the common good, which requires that all have the capacity to participate in community life.

> Real Democracy

Everyone must have equal access to the necessities of life and be treated with dignity and respect. Treaties with First Nations must be honoured.

> Social Justice and Equality

We must be able to participate in decisions that affect our lives and be guaranteed that our votes are reflected in the make-up of the Legislative Assembly.

> Active Citizenship

Our communities should be in control of their own destinies, supported by strong local economies, and sustained by local sources of food and renewable energy.

> A Culture of Peace and Respect

We must live within the ecological limits of the Earth, while meeting our needs without threatening our children's future or the survival of other species.

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