Energy authority won't say if it's in talks with Northern Pulp about biomass
The general manager for an energy authority that serves four municipal electric utilities in Nova Scotia will not say if they're in talks with Northern Pulp to buy electricity the shuttered mill could generate by restarting its power boiler and burning trees that were knocked down last fall during post-tropical storm Fiona.
The plan was detailed in documents filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court, where officials with the company that owns Northern Pulp — Paper Excellence Canada — were applying to extend creditor protection until the end of August. A judge approved the application last Friday.
The documents said company officials were talking with "a local energy authority" about the venture, although a Paper Excellence spokesperson declined to identify the authority. A spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power said last week that they were not in talks with the mill.
On Monday, the general manager for Alternative Resource Energy Authority would not say if that organization is the one referred to in the court documents.
"As a means to align with the provincial government's important decarbonization policies and regulations requiring electricity supplies in 2030 to be 80 per cent renewable or greater, we are advancing a portfolio of self-developed projects while also negotiating supply options with third-party entities," Aaron Long said in a statement.
He said the authority's "ability to secure equipment and services from local industry for our projects, and supplies from the [Nova Scotia] wholesale electricity marketplace … is best achieved by keeping the status and details of our many negotiations, or the lack thereof, confidential at this time."
The authority was formed in 2014 by the towns of Antigonish, Berwick and Mahone Bay. It developed the Ellershouse wind farm that provides renewable energy to the owner towns' electric utilities and the Riverport Electric Light Commission. The authority is also involved in commercial solar projects.
Interested parties to be informed
Long said in his statement that interested parties would be informed of equipment and supply arrangements "at a time that ensures the interests of our citizens and customers are protected."
In court documents, a vice-president for Paper Excellence Canada said the viability of restarting the power boiler to create electricity would depend on reaching an agreement with the unnamed energy authority, completing the environmental assessment process and renewing a water supply agreement.
The documents say the proposal could be a way to generate revenue for the mill in Abercrombie, N.S., that has not operated since early 2020 when provincial legislation removed the company's access to Boat Harbour, a former tidal estuary, to treat its effluent.
The company failed to secure the necessary approvals to build a new treatment facility and has since been in legal disputes with the provincial government.
Company officials have said they hope to reopen the mill and are going through the steps to get the necessary approvals, but the court documents also say that they could seek expressions of interest from other rural communities in the province interested in taking on the mill.
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