Clarity emerges on federal role in biggest-ever Nova Scotia wind procurement

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown in Enfield in July. (CBC - image credit)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shown in Enfield in July. (CBC - image credit)

A minor question at the Nova Scotia Power rate hearing this week has revealed the role the federal government played in helping secure the award of the province's largest-ever wind procurement to five First Nations-owned proponents.

Regulator Roland Deveau assumed $125 million in funding for Nova Scotia wind projects announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in July was part of Nova Scotia Power's greening of its grid.

"My understanding was that funding, the $125 million, was related to the (NSP capital) plan," vice-chairman Roland Deveau said to Nova Scotia Power president Peter Gregg.

"That's not the case," Gregg replied.

Gregg said the federal funding was for the First Nations component of projects selected in August to supply wind power in a procurement for the province.

The so-called rate-base procurement for 372 megawatts represents about 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's total electricity consumption.

Each of the five projects is owned in the majority by one or more Mi'kmaw communities in Nova Scotia.

The request for proposals and procurement was carried out by U.S.-based CustomerFirst Renewables on behalf of the province.

CBC
CBC

What was not not disclosed was the winning First Nations proponents shared $125 million in conditional funding from the Natural Resources Canada's Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program.

The connection was not mentioned in the Office of the Prime Minister's release following Trudeau's event in Enfield, N.S., when funding from the program was announced.

"With up to $125 million, new wind energy projects will provide clean power to around 350,000 homes in Nova Scotia, create hundreds of good jobs, and deliver benefits to local Indigenous communities, including jobs and training," the release said.

'Commercial confidentiality'

CustomerFirst Renewables confirmed the federal funding connection when asked this week, saying in a statement that the "$125M was carved out for the Rate Base Procurement and to be spread across qualified projects."

CustomerFirst did not respond to a question about transparency.

The provincial department of Natural Resources and Renewables sponsored the procurement.

In a statement, spokesperson Patricia Jreige said: "The RFP document clearly stated that federal funding may be involved" and referred questions to the federal government.

Natural Resources Canada declined to describe the connection between the federal funding and the provincial procurement competition.

"While the federal government has funded many projects, details of these agreements are not open to disclosure due to commercial confidentiality," Keean Nembhard, ministerial press secretary, said in an email.

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