Electric Avenue

Opening up the electricity market to competition sounds good. Unfortunately, as California has seen, there is risk. Free-market competition – viable for awhile in California – ended in brownouts and bankruptcy.

With ‘deregulation’ now a bad word in energy politics, in 2003 New Brunswick pursued partial market opening for all generators, not just renewables. While called deregulation by nearly everyone – CP journalists, energy analysts from outside the province, and even the Energy Minister – the government started spinning it as “re-regulation.” Ten years later, the New Brunswick Energy Blueprint said partial market opening was a failure and is now irrelevant. New Brunswick found that with such a small energy market, no companies could get the start-up cash to enter the market.

We asked Liberal MLA Andrew Younger about his energy ideas and he assured us that deregulation is not his goal saying “an unregulated electricity market would be potentially very bad for Nova Scotia.”

Andrew Younger: There is no single quick fix and we have been very clear to say that and very clear to say that there are many elements to a successful energy plan. We also believe that Nova Scotians, from a competitive point of view, and cost of living point of view, need some certainty and answers.

There are many ideas circulating from the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives about how to tackle rising electricity rates in Nova Scotia. Here are the best five that all parties should support.

1. Moving forward with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia’s Lower Churchill Falls hydro project. This project will provide a generation of stable, sustainable power.

2. Upgrading the electricity grid between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. This would allow cheap hydro to come our way from Quebec.

3. Continuing with Nova Scotia’s COMFIT program. Providing a secure supply of clean energy at stable prices with community-owned renewable energy projects is a unique, made-in-Nova Scotia solution.

4. Harnessing the energy of the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia’s bid to become a North American leader in tidal energy needs to continue to take steps forward. We could be an energy exporter if successful.

5. Keep the HST off home heating. Putting this tax back on would not be politically-wise, and more importantly would be noticed immediately by consumers. Just because it was an NDP idea is not a reason to reverse it.

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