LOWER CHURCHILL BIG HYDRO PROJECT NOT ADDRESSING BIG PICTURE
Halifax, NS- The proposed $6.2 billion dollar Lower Churchill Hydroelectric Project does not address the big picture for energy in Atlantic Canada says a coalition of environmental groups that include Sierra Club Atlantic and the Ecology Action Centre. The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) is hosting a panel on the Lower Churchill project today, June 8th, from 2:30-4:30 pm in the Compass Room of the Halifax Casino.
The groups maintain that Throne Speech promises to offer a long-sought Federal loan guarantee to fund the project do not provide adequate leadership on the environmental and economic viability of developing Lower Churchill.
"Promising a federal loan guarantee disregards the Federal Government's own Environmental Assessment process currently underway. It is significant that same throne speech confirming loan guarantees for the Lower Churchill also committed to reducing the government’s commitment to environmental assessment," said Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director of the Sierra Club Canada - Atlantic Chapter. "Without addressing major environmental impacts such as mercury contamination and waterway disruption, this can hardly be called a green energy project,” said Ms. Fitzgerald.
"Atlantic Canada needs to make policy shifts towards a real renewable energy future," said Catherine Abreu, Regional Coordinator of the Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition.
“Spending millions to retrofit New Brunswick Power’s potentially hazardous Point Lepreau nuclear generating station and Nova Scotia Power Inc.’s failure to commit to a phase-out of its coal-fired generating stations if hydroelectricity from Lower Churchill becomes available demonstrate the region’s need to re-think expenditures on traditional transmission mega-projects,” suggested Ms. Abreu.
$2.1 billion would be used to build transmission cables from Lower Churchill Falls to the island of Newfoundland. This cable would be partly owned by Emera. Another $1.2 billion transmission cable, from Newfoundland to Cape Breton would be solely owned by Emera and provide access to the hydroelectricity for other Northeastern jurisdictions in Canada and the US. The Nova Scotia government recently amended its Electricity Act to allow hydroelectricity imported from Churchill Falls to count toward its renewable electricity targets.
"Why is the Premier of Nova Scotia asking for a federal hand-out for a private company to export electricity to the US without a strong commitment to diversifying other renewables, including solar and wind, throughout the province?"asked Brennan Vogel, Energy Coordinator of the Ecology Action Centre, who is participating in today's NRTEE panel on the Lower Churchill.
Nova Scotia’s new Community Feed-In-Tariff program only allows for up to 5.6% of NSPI’s total electricity requirement to be met by decentralized renewable power production by 2020. Feed in Tariffs in Ontario have attracted over $8 billion dollars of private investment and will create 70,000 jobs in solar alone.
“For the Nova Scotia government to use renewable resources in Labrador to meet domestic renewable electricity targets is expensive, uncertain and unwarranted, and draws away the potential for domestic development of renewable electricity resources in Nova Scotia to meet Nova Scotia targets,” concluded Mr. Vogel.
Proposed development of Lower Churchill is a joint project between Newfoundland’s Crown utility Nalcor and Nova Scotia’s private utility’s parent company Emera. It is scheduled to come online in 2017. Nova Scotia Power Inc. estimates all of the hydroelectricity it is entitled to from Lower Churchill would meet between 8% and 10% of its total requirement by 2020. However, plans to export some of the hydroelectricity to New England do not indicate what proportion would remain in Atlantic Canada.
For more information, contact:
Gretchen Fitzgerald, Director, Atlantic Canada Chapter – Sierra Club Canada, 902-444-3113
Catherine Abreu, Regional Coordinator, Atlantic Canada Sustainable Energy Coalition, (902) 442-0199
Brennan Vogel, Energy Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, (902) 442-0199