December 18, 2011 - Jonathan Riley
Nova Scotia’s Minister of Energy was in Digby on Friday, Dec. 16 to announce the first five community-driven renewable energy projects to be approved for the community feed in-tariff (COMFIT) program.
The COMFIT program allows municipalities, First Nations, cooperatives, not-for profit groups, universities and community economic development funds (CEDIF) to generate electricity from wind, tidal, hydro and biomass and charge a pre-established rate for their power.
Colchester-Cumberland Windfield, Watts Wind Energy, Northumberland Windfield, the Municipality of the District of Chester and Fundy Tidal of Digby were all successful in their application to the program.
“These applications reflect significant community ownership,” said Energy Minister Charlie Parker at the press conference held in the Fundy Restaurant complex Friday. “Once constructed they will stand as testaments to the spirit of innovation and self-reliance that characterizes rural Nova Scotia, while contributing to local jobs and strengthened economies.”
More than a dozen community groups submitted 88 locally-based proposals for the unique made-in-Nova Scotia initiative. Four of the successful applicants were CEDIFs; a special investment tool designed to encourage local investment dollars to be invested locally.
Fundy Tidal for example, the Digby area CEDIF that is planning to put turbines in the Digby Gut, must obtain 51 per cent of its investment from inside Nova Scotia.
“This way of pooling money is normal for Nova Scotians,” said Dana Morin, president of Fundy Tidal at the press conference. “None of us have enough for a case of beer but if we all chip in we can get one.”
The approved projects will now try to secure financing, develop a grid impact study and complete federal and provincial environmental assessments and approvals.
Fundy Tidal has applied through COMFIT for other projects in Petit and Grand Passage.
Minister Parker said the province hopes to have the majority of the applications processed by spring and hopes to announce another round of approvals in the early in the new year.