Cleaner, Greener, Together: Collaborating with communities on our energy future
A message from Peter Gregg, our President and CEO—adapted from his remarks at the 2023 Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities conference on October 10, 2023.
We are in an exciting time in the energy sector here in Nova Scotia.
We have a collective mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight the effects of climate change. With that comes an entirely new clean energy and clean tech sector that is playing a key part in the province’s economic future. Nova Scotia Power has an important role in supporting the historic growth and development we are seeing—and we recognize the critical role that municipalities play, too. Together we can make big changes happen for the future of our communities.
This is a time of transformation—and with that comes some challenges.
We’re committed to meeting provincial and federal goals to reach 80% renewable energy and moving off coal by 2030. That’s only a little over six years away and there's lots of work ahead of us. We continue to work together with the province and federal government on the next steps to achieve our decarbonization goals in a way that ensures reliable electricity and best manages costs for customers.
Powering a Green Nova Scotia, Together
The path to 2030 is complex—but it’s one that brings tremendous opportunity, too.
We are encouraged by and supportive of the announcement from the province on the Clean Power Plan, as well as the joint announcement from the province and federal government on October 16, 2023 that demonstrates alignment on a way forward. We continue to participate in these discussions as we all work to create the best plan for and with Nova Scotians.
Our municipalities are at the centre of this plan. Just as they have been essential to the progress we’ve made to date in creating a greener province, the only way to achieve net-zero emissions is by continuing to work together.
Some examples include the work on Nova Scotia’s first community solar garden in collaboration with the Town of Amherst, the work with the Halifax Regional Municipality and Town of Sydney to electrify transit fleets, and our support for the Energize Bridgewater team in becoming a Smart City.
Our teams have also been finding more ways to engage with and involve our customers and communities. We have been working on several open houses this year, including ones in Onslow, Wentworth, Oxford, and Amherst to talk about the future build of a second transmission line to New Brunswick, which will be an important asset to support reliable electricity in Nova Scotia and to support the integration of more renewable energy—including significantly more wind that is anticipated to be added to the grid.
This year we also had open houses in Bridgewater, the Valley, and Halifax where our three proposed grid-scale battery projects are being planned. These batteries can help us store renewable energy and bring more of it to the grid.
We want to do more of this. There’s lots of work ahead but I know we can build a stronger, thriving and greener Nova Scotia if we tackle it together.
Working to Prevent Power Outages
Our team of 2,000 Nova Scotians across the province are working every day to put our customers at the centre of every decision we make.
We know that reliability is top of mind for our customers—and our commitment to delivering safe, reliable electricity is our most important job. It’s what we get up every day to focus on.
Our goal is to limit outages and when that’s not possible, making them as short as possible. Outages occur for many reasons—it’s everything from storms to a car hitting a pole, to animal interference, to copper wire theft, to equipment failure.
But the primary cause of outages is downed trees on wires—because of this, we invest annually in tree trimming along our power lines. We are nearly doubling our tree trimming investment over the next five years. This year, we’ll be investing about $32 million and that will increase to almost $45 million in 2024.
Modernizing Our Grid and Investing in Our System
Our investment in strengthening our system and outage prevention doesn’t stop at tree trimming. Over the past few years, we’ve spent approximately $180 million per year in new equipment and upgrades to our power system. This year, we have increased that investment to $200 million and we’re planning to invest an incremental $155 million on top of that over the next five years in areas that are expected to improve service reliability for our customers.
We’re also modernizing our grid to respond to our changing climate and extreme weather—especially wind gusts exceeding 80 km an hour, which can significantly impact our power system. We’re using different standards for design, ensuring our infrastructure is more resilient and can better withstand severe weather. This means bigger, stronger poles and more robust insulators specifically designed for weather impacts in coastal areas. We’re also using LiDAR technology to detect and find trees that are near our lines and moving some equipment underground when most cost-effective or requested by customers.
This is all part of our work to build a greener, more reliable electrical grid—for today, and for the future. As we continue to evolve, it’s more important than ever to work together with our municipalities and to engage with our customers as we strive towards a cleaner more sustainable future for our communities and our province.
For more information about our transition to renewable energy, visit nspower.ca/clean.
To learn more about how we’re strengthening our power system and working to prevent outages, visit nspower.ca/reliability.
Charlene MacMullin, a member of our reliability team
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