See below for a list of Frequently Asked Questions and responses regarding renewable energy development in Nova Scotia and the Rate Base Procurement. If you have a question that has not yet been answered, please contact email@example.com. The Department of Natural Resources and Renewables or the PA will not be directly answering these questions, but may update the Public FAQ to provide answers.
For any general inquiries please contact the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables:
Joseph Howe Building
1690 Hollis Street
PO Box 2664
Halifax, NS B3J 3P7
Please find below some resources. The PA will add to this list as resources become available:
How does government regulate wind energy projects?
Wind Energy Fact Sheets for Nova Scotian Municipalities
Environmental Assessment Frequently Asked Questions
Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Assessment
Renewable energy is an energy source that can regenerate indefinitely (for the most part) unlike fossil fuels which are finite resources.
The Province defines renewable low-impact electricity as any one of the following resources:
These renewable energy generation sources are consistent with EcoLogo definitions as the North American standard in environmental and sustainability practices.
The current procurement is for wind and solar energy projects since these are the most cost competitive and offer the greatest value to rate payers.
The province is responding to the climate emergency by undertaking the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity system through a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This is increasingly important to mitigate the impacts of climate change on Nova Scotian communities and reduce air pollution.
The current renewable energy procurement is for approximately 10% of the current electricity demand in Nova Scotia (~350 megawatts or 1100 gigawatt hours). The new renewable energy will be provided to the electricity grid for all customers of Nova Scotia Power.
Renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar are some of the lowest costs of energy in the world. It is expected that this new renewable energy will provide best value to rate payers.
By 2030, 80% of all electricity that is generated and is sold to Nova Scotia Power Inc. customers must be produced by renewable energy sources.
In Nova Scotia, renewable energy projects are built by private companies referred to as Independent Power Producers or IPP’s. Often these private companies will partner with local municipalities or Mi’kmaq communities.
Projects must bid into a competitive process and demonstrate that their project provides the best value to rate payers. The project must be real and technically possible, the project team must have the experience and expertise to build the project, the project must understand environmental risks and how to mitigate them where appropriate, the developers must engage and consult with the general public, , and the proposal must demonstrate social and economic benefits to the Province
The competitive procurement is designed to select the best of the best projects to provide value to the ratepayers of Nova Scotia. The winning Proponent will be awarded the opportunity to execute a 25-year contract for sale of the energy produced.
Projects that are selected through this Request for Proposals must also be successful in obtaining all necessary permits or approvals for operations, which might include an Environmental Assessment Approval depending on the renewable energy resource.
Globally, as the wind industry has grown and matured over the last decade the size of the wind turbines has also grown. Turbine tower heights have gotten taller, and the sweep of the turbine blade has also grown. A higher wind turbine allows greater access to higher wind speeds. This means that the current industry standard of bigger wind turbines reduces the total number of turbines at a site to produce a similar or greater output of energy.
As an example, turbines approved and built in the 2010’s we’re on average 80m height with a blade sweep diameter of 80m. In today’s global market, the average wind turbine is now 150m high with a blade sweep diameter of 120m.
For simplicity, current wind turbines in the province are almost the size of one football field, and new wind turbines are about 1.5 football fields.
All turbines, regardless of height, must meet municipal set-back and regulatory requirements.
These new renewable energy projects could power approximately 110,0000 homes in Nova Scotia.
This is enough energy to power almost all the homes in the Southern and Annapolis valley regions of the Province outside of Halifax (Hants, Kings, Annapolis, Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne, Queens, and Lunenburg Counties).
The DNRR roles are twofold:
The Land Services and Regional Services Branch is responsible for reviewing, processing, and approving or rejecting applications for Crown Lands through their regulated Crown Land Lease process.
These two branches of the Department work collaboratively together and respect the mandate of each team.
The Province may appoint a Procurement Administrator in section 4B of the Electricity Act for the purpose of competitively procuring new renewable energy for Nova Scotia.
In early 2020, the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables sent a Request for Information to five companies with the relevant skills and experience to conduct procurement. The Province received responses from three of the 5 companies and conducted an evaluation process that scored the responses based on the qualification, experience and expertise of the company, knowledge of renewable energy procurement in Nova Scotia and across other jurisdictions, presentation of the submission, and price. All 3 responses were evaluated and scored, CustomerFirst Renewables received the highest score from this evaluation and was recommended for appointed to Executive Council. Executive Council appointed CustomerFirst Renewables (OIC #2020-350) for a term of 3-years on December 23, 2020.
On December 23, 2020 the Province of Nova Scotia appointed CustomerFirst Renewables as the Procurement Administrator (PA) for a term of three years to conduct the Rate Base Procurement (RBP) process. This is a tool often used in many energy markets to ensure a thorough and independent process that is fair, transparent, and competitive. As directed by the Province, the PA issues a competitive process or a Request for Proposals (RFP) for new renewable energy.
The PA develops the RFP in collaboration with several interested parties and regulatory bodies, and provides several public opportunities for feedback. The PA will issue the RFP with a submission deadline of approximately 60-90 days. IPP’s will have this time to finalize their proposals for submission. Once submitted, the PA will review and score the projects based on how they best meet the requirements set out in the RFP. As a part of the evaluation process, the PA conducts due diligence on each aspect of submitted Proposals. The highest scoring projects will be awarded the opportunity to execute a commercial sales contract for the electricity that will be generated by the project. The time from opening of the RFP for bids to award for successful projects will take approximately 4-6 months.
The PA is responsible for communicating with IPP’s, Nova Scotia Power, the Utility and Review Board and other interested industry participants. Please do not contact the Procurement Administrator if you have questions or concerns regarding an individual project(s). The How to Engage section of the RBP website outlines how members of the general public can engage with individual developers and the RBP process as a whole. The PA will ultimately review comments from the general public while conducting due diligence, but the comments must be received as described on the website.
Nova Scotia Power is involved in ensuring the proposed project can be connected to the Nova Scotia grid at the site proposed. They have been involved in informing some of the technical requirements in the RFP and provided their technical expertise as it relates to the Nova Scotia power grid.
Nova Scotia Power will be the contracted party with the IPP for commercial sales contracts for the buying of the renewable energy generated by these new projects. Nova Scotia Power is not leading the procurement process for new renewable energy.
Proponents are expected to submit the following as a part of their Proposals:
The PA will use these submissions to determine, at their discretion, a score for engagement. The draft scoring rubric is available in Draft #2 of the RFP (refer to Section 22.214.171.124). The final scoring rubric is undergoing review by the PA and will be released when the RFP is finalized and issued.
The PA will conduct independent due diligence to verify representations made by Proponents, including verifying information in project proposals with comments from members of the general public. Therefore, the PA encourages members of the general public to direct any comments on developer engagement to this firstname.lastname@example.org. Public commentary sent to this address will be taken into consideration by the PA.
The process for selecting a suitable site to build new wind includes many considerations such as: the wind resource available, proximity to the electrical grid, set-back from residential homes, environmental sensitivity considerations, pre-existing infrastructure like roads, and many other cultural, economic, ecological and health and safety considerations.
A great deal of analysis and careful consideration go into selecting a wind farm site for proposal. Part of the proposal process is also exploring these items in further detailed analysis and speaking with local communities.
This means the project is likely proposed to be bid into this competitive RFP or another RFP in the future. Just because a project is proposed, does not necessarily mean it will be built. As an example, there may be 50 projects bid into the RFP and approximately 4-7 will be selected through this procurement.
The RFP asks project developers to meaningfully engage, early and frequently, with the communities where they are proposing to build their renewable energy project. The Procurement Administrator is currently finalizing the criteria and scoring for engagement with the general public. After proposals have been submitted, the Procurement Administrator will review and evaluate all bids, including information on community benefits, support and any concerns raised during the engagement process.
In addition, all selected projects will still need to receive all other permits and approvals, such as an Environmental Assessment, in order to be built.
Communities may benefit from land lease payments, taxes, or directly through community benefits plans or agreements with the communities where renewable energy development is occurring.
In the instance of community benefits agreements, this information may remain confidential between a project developer and the community. It is up to the communities to negotiate these details with the project developer. In addition, the procurement is looking to support projects where it benefits underrepresented groups or underserved communities. See section 6.3.3 Social Programs for more information.
Turbines must be located far enough away from domestic dwellings so that the turbines do not unreasonably affect the amenity of such properties through sound, shadow flicker, visual domination, or reflected light.
The advisable distance between residences and a proposed wind development to avoid any disturbance of neighbors depends on a variety of factors including local topography, climate, character and level of background noise, and size of the development.
Therefore, the set-back limits may differ from municipality to municipality and project to project.
Talk with the project developers to understand how their proposed site and plan addresses these important concerns as it relates to your home and your local set-back limits. Further information and concerns may be discussed during the Environmental Assessment process.
Feedback from members of the general public regarding a specific development must be sent to email@example.com by the Proposal Submission Deadline, as outlined in the RFP to be considered a part of the due diligence of the PA. The PA expects the Proposal Submission Deadline to occur in early June 2022. Kindly note that this date is subject to change based on the date of RFP Issuance; changes will be updated on the RBP website, and a notification will be sent by email.
If a Proponent has proposed a wind or solar project in your community, and has not engaged with the community, members of the general public are able to communicate this to the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments sent to email@example.com specific developments will be aggregated and anonymized to protect the privacy information of any individuals by the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables and forwarded to the Procurement Administrator. This commentary will be taken into consideration by the PA when conducting due diligence to determine a Proposal(s) score on Section 6.1.4 Engagement with the General Public.
The Procurement Administrator will conduct due diligence on all claims made by developers bidding into the RFP. This will be done through independent research, in cooperation with the Province of Nova Scotia. The PA is an independent and impartial third party and is tasked with ensuring that the Rate Base Procurement results in the best possible outcomes for ratepayers. This includes conducting extensive due diligence on all proposed projects. The PA has worked with the Provincial government, and regulatory agencies to design the evaluation criteria and ensure a fair and competitive procurement process.
Specific comments on a project or developer from the general public will be taken into consideration when validating claims related to the Engagement with the General Public section of the RFP (Section 6.1.4).
Multiple studies have been conducted throughout the United States and Canada by researchers and property corporations and there is no evidence that wind turbines have an impact on property values, even those within visible eyelines of properties.
For more information please visit: https://canwea.ca/communities/property-values/.
The main economic development opportunities that are provided by renewable energy projects are through partnerships and ownership models with local communities. This means local groups will have ownership shares in the project itself and directly receive benefits. These may be with municipalities or Mi’kmaq communities. See the Ownership section of the RFP for more details.
The larger and more diverse economic opportunity comes with the supply chain goods and services that Nova Scotia businesses can provide to support the development and construction of these projects. These services may include local expertise and labour in environmental services, engineering, legal, construction, telecommunications, transportation, electricians, and general labour for land clearing, concrete and ongoing needs for operations and maintenance. These are only a small window of the goods and services that can be provided by local businesses in Nova Scotia.
The RBP RFP encourages and scores proponents on their commitments to utilize the local Nova Scotian supply chain while following international trade laws. Please refer to Section 6.3.2 of the RFP for more information.
Proponents will also receive a higher score on their proposals if they are able to demonstrate potential for furthering Capacity Building and/or for establishing a framework for a clearly defined and impactful Benefits Agreement for the benefit of local communities Capacity Building refers the process of strengthening or developing future renewable energy and grid modernization projects in an organization or community, including by building knowledge and skills, advancing research, and increasing access to Renewable Low-Impact Electricity. Benefits Agreements are legally binding agreements negotiated between a Proponent and a beneficiary that is susceptible to suffer adverse impacts from a project, to participate in the benefits of resource development. Please refer to Section 6.3.3 of the RFP for more information.
Wind turbines are large pieces of equipment, and as such may generate some noise. In Nova Scotia, a guideline of 40 dBA has been adopted as the maximum sound level outside of a dwelling and is a requirement for wind projects. This is consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 40 dBA for protection of sleep. This sound level is comparable to a quiet street in a residential area, a busy library, but less than a vacuum cleaner.
Proponents that are unable to demonstrate the ability to maintain these noise limits will not be selected through the competitive bid process. Additionally, any company that is selected and receives Environmental Assessment Approval is be expected to maintain compliance with the noise limits set out in the Conditions of their Approval.
For more specific information, please visit the study: A Primer on Noise
Health Canada estimates the number of deaths in Nova Scotia related to air pollution to be 270 per year. One of the leading sources of air pollution in Nova Scotia is from the electricity system. This is why it is very important to transition from fossil fuel use to renewable energy not just in Nova Scotia, but globally as well.
As it relates to wind turbines, Health Canada has studied and reviewed human health related impacts from wind turbines and includes providing science-based advice, upon request, to federal departments, provinces, territories, and others on the potential impacts of wind turbine noise (WTN) on community health and well-being. Provinces and territories, through the legislation they have enacted, make decisions in relation to areas including installation, placement, sound levels, and mitigation measures for wind turbines.
For more specific information, please visit the study: Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a decision-making tool used to promote sustainable development by evaluating the potential environmental effects of major developments before they proceed. This is accomplished by involving the general public and the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia along with various government departments and agencies during the environmental assessment.
Environmental Assessments also promote better project planning by identifying and addressing environmental effects at the earliest stages of project development and can save Proponent’s time and money. Receiving an Environmental Assessment is a critical step of project development.
Interested in learning more about the Environmental Assessment process? Please visit: https://novascotia.ca/nse/ea/faqs.asp#faq1
Wind farms may impact birds and wildlife; however, research suggests that when projects are carefully selected considering environmental sensitivities, these impacts can be mitigated. Proposed Projects through the procurement have had to consider these environmental sensitivities when selecting their sites, will be evaluated on environmental risk and do require an Environmental Assessment which will further consider the environmental impacts of successful projects from the procurement process. For example, all wind farms are required to conduct seasonal studies to assess risk to migrating birds year-round.
There are very few larger solar installations in Nova Scotia to date; however, as prices for solar panels continue to drop, these larger installations are likely to become more frequent.
Larger solar installations are often sited on the ground and at sites that are out in a large, open field that is a good sun resource and clear of shadows (trees or buildings).
A large solar installation may not require an Environmental Assessment under current regulation. This makes the community engagement sessions of vital importance in having local questions, concerns and comments captured during this process.
Solar installations do not produce sound, but it is an electrical site so may be contained behind fencing for safety reasons.
Large solar installations are often compatible with some types of farming like bees, some farm animals and gardening. However, some land areas may not be suitable or compatible land uses for solar such as viable agricultural lands, lands of cultural or historical significance, lands not zoned for industrial use, or intact natural or protected areas. .
Large scale solar installations can impact the soil through disturbance and removal of vegetation; however, can be mitigated and restored once the system is operational.
Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays and reduce the reflection of the sun off the panels. As a result, they do not produce much glare, less than your average window in a home or a body of water.
Once projects are built, they must be operationally maintained to ensure they meet health and safety and performance standards and continued to meet all other approvals and permits issued by the province or the Government of Canada.
However, like all mechanical things, they too have an operational lifespan. For wind turbines, the average lifespan is 25-30 years for new machines. For solar arrays, the operational lifespan is slightly shorter at 20-25 years.
When a technology is approaching the end of its operational life, projects can repower and be upgraded to the latest in technologies and industry standards. Or the project may choose to or be required to decommission the machine and meet any requirements of the environmental approvals/authorizations regarding site restoration.