NSPI says biomass project best deal

Nancy King
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[Point Tupper, NS]—Nova Scotia Power Inc. maintains that a proposed $208-million biomass project involving NewPage Port Hawkesbury provides the best available opportunity to meet the province’s pending renewable energy standard.

NSPI made the statement in its reply to intervenors’ final submissions in the Utility and Review Board’s review of the proposal, which was filed with the board Friday (Sept. 24). It argued the project provides the lowest-cost source of firm renewable energy available for 2013, and provides the most certainty that the utility will meet provincial standards for renewable energy.

NewPage and NSPI have asked that the project be approved without conditions.

The biomass facility would generate about 60 megawatts of electricity a year, representing about three per cent of the NSPI’s generation, or enough energy to power about 50,000 homes. NSPI would invest $200 million in the project, while NewPage would construct and operate it, and supply fuel.

The province’s consumer advocate John Merrick has raised concerns about how the financial position of NewPage’s parent company may affect the project.

“Trying to characterize the risk facing (NewPage Port Hawkesbury) and its parent as being equivalent to the difficulties facing the industry as a whole is a mischaracterization of the risk in question,” Merrick wrote. “Doing business with NewPage has a higher risk than doing business with other forest products companies generally.”

But NSPI responded that his comments were speculative at best, adding that the experience in Nova Scotia suggests the local mill and its biomass plant would continue to operate as usual if NewPage Corp. was to restructure.

In its submission, NewPage said the biomass development and the related investment in the mill will enhance the viability of its Nova Scotia operations.

The Cape Breton Post

Organizations: NewPage Port Hawkesbury, Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cape Breton

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