4RG has commented that subsidies to keep the cost of electricity down lessen the financial incentive for consumers to use less electricity. Effectively these subsidies are a road block to reducing GHG emissions in any province that generates electricity from fossil fuels.
A prior commentary, Politicians and Energy Subsidies, reviewed strategies adopted by Provincial Governments to keep costs down. In Ontario hydro bills credit residents with a flat ten per cent reduction. The Ontario Government introduced this credit to lessen the financial impact of the cost of renewable energy sources, particularly windpower. The Government’s explanation was that today’s taxpayers should not have to pay the entire costs of a shift to renewable energy that will be benefit future taxpayers.
At election time Governments that have been over ambitious in planning to reduce provincial GHG have paid the price. The latest example is Nova Scotia: the NDP Government was routed in favour of the Liberals.
The NDP were committed to reduce Nova Scotia’s GHG emissions. The problem was that Nova Scotia Power Corporation obtained most of the electricity needed from coal-fired generation plants. Not even a moderately successful program to introduce renewable energy sources could hope to change that reality.
What did hold promise was the Muskrat Falls power development in Newfoundland. Electricity surplus to Newfoundland’s needs would be transmitted under the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Nova Scotia. The costs of this infrastructure would be recovered in part by increased charges to Nova Scotia consumers. That future cost was apparently too much for Nova Scotia consumers who voted the NDP out of office.
The first policy announcement by the Liberal party leader and Premier designate was that Nova Scotia was withdrawing its support for the Muskrat Falls project unless power was available to Nova Scotians at cheaper rates. The Premier of Newfoundland bridled at this development: “We would never allow ourselves to be this far into a project and have a government come in and scuttle the whole piece”.
The casualty of this political upheaval is the GHG emission target of the Province of Nova Scotia. While 2020, the date to meet the target is some way off, the new Government is unlikely to rush to institute programs or incur expenses necessary to meet this commitment.
And in 2017, the end of term for this government, where will Nova Scotia be? And what options will exist then for a crash program to achieve the promised reductions?
In 2010 the Premiers of Nova Scotia and the other Maritime Provinces agreed with the Governors of the New England States on a Climate Action Plan. This Plan was the high-level map for Nova Scotia’s reductions to meet the 2020 target. For Nova Scotia, the Climate Change Action Plan is dead – or at best is on life support. Apart from Muskrat Falls hydro generation, there are no other clear options for meeting this target.