Yesterday, Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter announced his government's plan to reduce the impact of rising fuel costs by making changes to the province's air quality regulations.
“I said that Nova Scotians would not be unduly burdened by our commitment to reduce mercury,” said Dexter. “The plan we are announcing today will result in more affordable electricity while maintaining government's environmental commitments.”
The province will amend its air quality regulations to extend the deadline for achieving the 2010 cap until 2014 and require an even lower emissions cap of 35 kg by 2020. By 2020 total mercury emissions will be lower than originally set. Nova Scotia Power will also be required to make up for any emissions over 65 kg per year and submit a plan on how it will be accomplished. The new 2010 cap will still be lower than levels in 2009, says the provincial government, and result in a year-over-year improvement.
Nova Scotia Power released projections two weeks ago about the cost of fuel to generate power that could see electricity rates increase by 12% or more for residential customers and 18% or more for large industries. The rate increase would be effective in January. The utility attributes about half of the increase to the cost of meeting provincial regulations on mercury emissions, currently set at 65 kilograms per year.
“No one is ever happy when there is an increase to the cost of doing business,” said Robert Patzelt of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Nova Scotia division. “We, along with others, approached government about our concerns and they have listened. This decision reflects their understanding of the importance of working together to achieve the right balance in protecting our environment and maintaining our competitiveness.”