Lurking behind Nova Scotia Power's increasingly frantic efforts to find renewable sources of electrical generation is the threat of a crushing $500,000-a-day fine should it fail to meet legislated targets for 2010. That works out to $183 million per year—half again what NSP earned its shareholders in 2008.
For better or for worse, the threat is symbolic, not real.
Under the Electricity Act, a set of regulations known as the Renewable Energy Standards (RES) requires NSP to purchase at least five percent of its 2010 energy supply from renewable sources owned by third parties and built after 2001. The RES requirement increases to 10 percent in 2013, but may include generation from both third party and NSPI facilities. The Climate Change Action Plan, released last January, would have increased this to 25 percent by 2020, but a little noticed NDP campaign promise trumps that provision, moving the 25 percent deadline up to 2015.
RES regulations stipulate "a daily penalty of no more than $500,000" for failure to comply.
[caption id="attachment_777" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Dr. Chris Milburn"][/caption]
What's disquieting about our New Democratic Party government-in-waiting is the same thing that's been disturbing about Nova Scotia for decades: a lack of compelling leadership.
It's not simply that our once-upon-a-time socialists have moved to the dead center of the road. Contrarian is OK with that. It's Darrell Dexter's meticulous avoidance of anything that might challenge voters in any way.
The NDP knew that to get elected, they would have to win seats in rural Nova Scotia. They took polls and conducted focus groups, and discovered that rural Nova Scotians are upset about emergency room closures. So the NDP promised to end those closures, even though every thoughtful observer knows that doing so would be a wasteful diversion of scarce health care dollars. Among other things, it will make recruitment of physicians to rural areas more difficult, not easier. Why would a fully trained physician want to sit in an emergency room all night to treat one or two patients?