Nova Scotia’s solar energy sector went public this week with concerns over Nova Scotia Power’s processing time for solar installation permits.
“Huge demand for solar among Nova Scotians but we risk losing the summer install season with close to 1000 projects stalled,” Solar Nova Scotia tweeted on May 18.
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For their part, the public utility says it is dealing with a backlog but it’s committed to working through it.
“Since January, we have processed approx. 650 electrical permitting requests and acknowledge that there continues to be a backlog which we are working to resolve as quickly as possible,” Stacy O’Rourke, Nova Scotia Power’s communications director, wrote in an email statement.
O’Rourke wrote that the utility is committed to phasing out coal and that processing permits for solar installations is a priority.
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“Nova Scotia is not incentivized to bring on renewables at all, let alone in a timely fashion, and that’s a big problem,” said Claudia Chender, the Nova Scotia NDP critic for natural resources and renewables.
Chender says Nova Scotia Power’s attempt to charge solar customers a connection fee earlier this year demonstrates the need for the provincial government to reform how the utility is regulated.
“So that there’s a service standard for sollar installation. So, that they’re incentivized differently not just for selling power but also for meeting our environmental targets and getting us towards renewables,” she said.
Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia’s minister of natural resources and renewables, says regulation changes are a possibility.
“I’ve been very clear right from day one, there’s nothing off the table. We made some amendments to the acts during the recent legislative sitting. We’re in the middle of regulations. This is an open file,” he said.
Rushton says the high demand from homeowners to have solar panels installed is a positive sign in Nova Scotia’s pathway to phasing out coal.
“I understand from comments made on social media from Solar Nova Scotia that there’s a high interest rate so that’s a good thing. And we encourage Nova Scotia Power to move these things forward,” he said.
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