A place where we explore the topics surrounding energy choices, policies and actions
and their impact on our economy, health, and environment.

Monday, June 24, 2013

One of the most popular topics raised at our public consultations throughout the province is our community dividend. The community dividend is a commitment on the part of Scotian WindFields to make an annual contribution to the communities surrounding our wind turbine installations. The amount of the donation is 1% of gross revenue. That means 1% of revenue from the power sold goes directly back into the community, no waiting to make a profit, no other calculations. 1% of the revenue pure and simple.

We developed this innovative program to fill several roles:

  • to give payback to the community for their involvement in supporting wind energy
  • to be a good neighbour by sharing the benefits that come from producing wind energy
  • to live up to our philosophy of community sharing and community economic development


The administration of these funds will be handled locally by local community groups and residents. The community will decide how to distribute the funds through a committee drawn from local stakeholders and organizations. The kinds of projects that could receive funds include:

  • community centres
  • rec centres and sports fields
  • sports teams
  • school programs
  • local scholarships
  • volunteer organizations
  • hiking trails
  • museums and interpretive centres


These are just some examples of the kinds of recipients we expect to take advantage of our annual contribution.

We are proud of the concept of giving back to the communities that support us by hosting our wind turbines. Since launching our program more than 2 years ago, we’ve seen other wind developers from across the globe instituting the same type of program. From Australia, to Scotland, to Ontario, it’s an idea that works for communities and brings wind developers and communities together to share the economic benefits of wind and make a difference in the community. The fact that we are seeing this idea grow means it is an idea whose time has come. We are happy to be part of the trend and the innovation that makes a difference. We encourage people to contact us to get involved.

We will be starting up local committees near all of our wind installations. These committees will oversee the distribution of funds in their area. Stay tuned for more information about a committee in your area. Get in touch with us at 1-877-798-5085 or email if you would like to get involved in this exciting new program.

Monday, May 13, 2013

When considering the integration of locally produced energy, it is important to understand the impacts of the presence of a turbine or turbines, their acceptance, and their role in the daily lives of the residents. This video by the provincial government takes a balanced approach to understanding that relationship between the people and the windfarm.

The Government of Nova Scotia Communications team talked to the people living near the Pubnico Wind Farm to document their experiences and learn their take on living near the wind farm.

Twelve minute version:

Three minute version:

Laurent d’Entremont, a freelance writer and local storyteller who lives near the turbines of Pubnico offers a personal portrait of life near the windfarm. It’s a portrait of a development that has quietly brought a community together through the hiking trails and shared space on the turbine access roads. In the midst of creating local energy a community commons has organically grown in this rural landscape. Here is his article from March 2012 in the Kings County Register/Advertiser.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

We hear a lot these days about the potential health impacts of wind turbines.  Health Canada has undertaken to review the possible health effects of the proximity of utility-size wind turbines. Overwhelming scientific evidence supports the view that wind turbines are benign neighbours, and at recognized setback distances do not emit enough noise to disturb even the lightest sleeper. However, there have been complaints about wind turbines causing disrupted sleep and headaches. Enough anecdotal evidence to provoke Health Canada to study the entirety of the health impacts of wind turbine proximity to determine their ultimate safety and to make recommendations regarding healthy set back distances.

All energy production comes with a cost. Policy-makers must juggle considerations of risk and reward when weighing these options. In the context of full cost benefit analyses, renewable energies including electricity from wind come out the obvious winners. This past week, Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading independent energy research institute released a study that confirmed the overwhelming high cost of electricity sourced from coal.

The study is based on Alberta’s coal-fired generators, but the results apply equally to Nova Scotia. The findings are so profound and directly relevant that we copy most of the text of their press release below.

EDMONTON — The health impact costs associated with burning coal for electricity in Alberta are close to $300 million annually according to a new report released today by a coalition of Canadian health and environmental groups.

Coal plants are a major source of toxic air contaminants, including mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter. The study shows that in Alberta each year this pollution contributes to over 4,000 asthma episodes, over 700 emergency visits for respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, and around 80 hospital admissions, with chronic exposures resulting in nearly 100 premature deaths.

“Doctors agree that coal is a health hazard from start to finish,” says Farrah Khan with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. “Coal-fired power plants put Albertans’ health at risk, especially the health of our children.”

“Pollution from coal power contributes to thousands of asthma episodes every year,” says Dr. Robert Oliphant, President and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada. “On average in Alberta, a child visits an emergency department for asthma every 34 minutes, with pollution from coal power being a major contributor to these episodes.”

Recent polling suggests that only one in three Albertans know the majority of their electricity comes from coal. Though coal is generally seen as a cheap source of electricity, this analysis reveals that the health and social costs of coal pollution add at least 3.6 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, nearly doubling the cost of electricity production. [emphasis added]

“Air pollution from coal is linked to respiratory conditions – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, and pneumonia,” says Beth Nanni, Environmental Program Specialist with The Lung Association, Alberta & Northwest Territories. ”We urge the Alberta government to transition away from coal power and towards renewable energy as soon as possible.”

In this study the produced as well the following full cost accounting chart:

Other sources confirm that the effects of air pollution have a direct impact on health including:

• respiratory illnesses
• cardiovascular disease
• allergies
• neurological effects
from: Health Canada Website,

The effects of air pollution from fossil fuel burning are felt on an international scale. The World Health Organization warns that outdoor air pollution poses a considerable risk to human health, leading to greater morbidity and shorter life expectancy. They estimate that air pollution causes two million premature deaths every year.  (See: World Health Organization, “Health Aspects of Air Pollution”, June 2004.)

The most damaging elements of air pollution are NOx, SO2, and particulate matter. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and ozone add to health effects as well. A considerable amount of air pollution is emitted by vehicular traffic, but a significant portion comes from fossil fuel burning in the generation of electricity. In Nova Scotia, electricity generation is responsible for:

• 39% of NOx
• 85.5% of sulphur oxides
• 42.9% of PM
from: GPI Atlantic, “The Ambient Air Quality Accounts for the Nova Scotia Genuine Progress Index”, January 2004.

The Ontario Medical Association (Ontario Medical Association) estimates that exposure to air pollution results in 5,800 premature deaths and cost that province one billion dollars in avoidable health cost per annum. (See: Ontario Medical Association, “The Illness Costs of Air Pollution: 2005-2026 Health and Economic Damage Estimates”, 2005.)

The OMA report identifies four health endpoints from the health effects of air pollution. They are:
• premature death
• hospital admissions
• emergency room visits
• minor illnesses

The Health Canada report on wind turbine proximity and health in Canada (due out in 2014) will certainly add to our understanding of energy production and its impacts. Policy-makers need to weigh the full costs of all options to make good policies. More information like the Health Canada study can only inform more effective energy policy for the health of their constituents. Certainly in Nova Scotia, health care is a considerable portion of our budget and a significant concern for Nova Scotians. Addressing health costs and energy options in a full cost benefit analysis makes the most sense for planning the best energy mix for the future for this province.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

CBC reported in December that almost three-quarters of the Canadian population hold an RRSP or plan to invest in one this year. That is a lot of money being distributed by millions of Canadians. With that amount of money comes a lot of power. If the investors took control of their investments and decided to wield that power what a formidable force that would be.

RRSP investments generate economic development and stimulate economic activity in the companies, communities, and industrial sectors in which they are distributed.

Nova Scotians invest approximately $600 million RRSPs.  Of that $600 million less than two per cent of that is estimated to have been re-invested in the Province. The Government of Nova Scotia summarizes the issue with this situation succinctly.

“This is a problem for communities in two ways: first, it is often difficult to attract venture capital to invest away from their home location, and second, each investment dollar spent in a community circulates through the economy creating a beneficial ripple effect. Most of our investment dollars are benefiting the Ontario economy (through the TSE).”

There is power in money. Six hundred million dollars could generate a lot of business opportunities here in Nova Scotia. Investing that kind of strength and capital in our own entrepreneurs would certainly fuel economic development. It is the kind of shift in resources that could turn an economic tide. The Nova Scotia government has taken an important step to help spur that shift by developing the Community Economic Development Investment Fund (CEDIF). The CEDIF program uses tax incentives to try to divert a small stream from the flood of money that leaves our province.

But what if the power from our investment money wasn’t just being diverted to other jurisdictions such as Ontario, Alberta, or abroad? What if the power of our investment money was actually threatening our safety, health, and our future?

The Divestment Movement is a new take on a proven strategy for making social change. In the 1980’s, students pressured Universities to divest from their investments in South Africa in the effort to push that country to end apartheid.  Students and other activists are now turning this effective tactic toward this century’s crisis, climate change.

Consider these facts from, a climate change action group.
It’s simple math: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.

Based on the math, they have developed a simple manifesto with a simple strategy. Encourage large investors to divest of their money in the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Since the campaign began in November 2012, more than 190 college campuses have signed up. The movement has struck a chord.

It may have started on the campus, but it’s a movement that is resonating far and wide. Just a couple of weeks ago, this news out of Seattle:
SEATTLE, WA — Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn sent a letter to the city’s two chief pension funds on friday, formally requesting that they “refrain from future investments in fossil fuel companies and begin the process of divesting our pension portfolio from those companies.”

“Climate change is one of the most important challenges we currently face as a city and as a society,” wrote Mayor McGinn in a letter to the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System (SCERS) Board and the City of Seattle Voluntary Deferred Compensation Plan Committee. “I believe that Seattle ought to discourage these companies from extracting that fossil fuel, and divesting the pension fund from these companies is one way we can do that.”

The power to create positive change through investment choices is an inspiring and potent concept. Even the great Dr. Desmond Tutu has become involved and endorsed the Divestment Movement.  “The divestment movement played a key role in helping liberate South Africa. The corporations understood the logics of money even when they weren’t swayed by the dictates of morality,” said Tutu in a video for the campaign. “Climate change is a deeply moral issue too, of course…. Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.”

We can change the world with our investment choices; bring our money home to support our own economy, and prevent it from doing harm. We have the power.

Investment matters.