Energy consumption is inevitable when producing agricultural products. Access to affordable, environmentally responsible and sustainable energy sources along with energy conserving technologies and methods is critical to the success of a farm operation. Farms produce by‐products that can be used to produce renewable energy without negatively impacting other industries. To ensure stability of the industry, renewable, affordable and environmentally responsible sources of energy are required.
Access to three phase power is a concern for farms upgrading equipment on their operations. Much of the newer equipment requires efficient energy which single phase power cannot offer. This is prohibiting many farms from upgrading to modernized and more efficient equipment, and growing their operation. Nova Scotia Power has not consistently maintained needed upgrades to services across the province to match the growth and the energy needs. These limitations are severely restricting the economic growth of Nova Scotia. The economic loss of these limitations is significant, but the exact value is not known. To better understand the gaps, a needs assessment must be industry executed and supported by government.
Many farms have the biomass capacity to produce enough energy for their operation and to supply their neighbours with energy. The Direct to Retail provision under the Electricity Reform Act has the potential to allow farms in the province an opportunity to produce energy with their farm by‐products and sell using the Renewable to Retail model as was presented to UARB. However, the cost prohibitive barriers that were present under COMFIT still exist in this new program. Two significant cost barriers that limit a farm’s ability to supply electricity are the communication connection costs and accessing three phase power. The cost of building the necessary public infrastructure (e.g. three phase power lines) to support energy production is a barrier for farmers interested in producing energy. Other provinces, such as New Brunswick, have significantly lower connection costs which creates an unfair competitive disadvantage for Nova Scotia businesses. There are many logistical restrictions that must be addressed for small scale energy production to be effective. Other restrictions include net metering restricted to within distribution zones and same account addresses.
Policy Statement: It shall be the policy of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to lobby the Nova Scotia government for access to affordable energy sources and to allow fair and cost effective connection into the distribution grid without placing the burden on the farmers. The Federation will also advocate for the addition of a farm energy specialist. The Federation will also lobby government to create a capital fund to support investment in creation and use of renewable energy.