A solar and wind power developer in Fredericton is taking the New Brunswick government to task for letting a “provincially legislated monopoly” keep a lid on renewable energy investment.
“While New Brunswick continues to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at the refurbishment of decades-old facilities and potential R&D projects for the future, it has outright cut its development of wind energy entirely for the next decade,” writes Naveco Power Inc. CEO Amit Virmani, in a guest post for the Clean 50 award program. “New Brunswick has also made limited progress in enabling the development of solar energy in our province,” at a time when “we face several current crises that can be helped by expanded development of renewable energy and storage solutions.”
Virmani traces the problem back to provincial rules that impede any renewable energy projects above 100 kilowatts in size. “The wheels of bureaucracy do indeed turn slowly,” he says. “Too slow, for a small business that is looking to grow into a largely untapped market in the Maritimes.”
The monopoly structure of the province’s electricity market “also curbs innovation and growth due to the lack of private competition,” he adds. “This is a great loss for our industry, and for New Brunswickers,” at a time when new battery storage technologies could boost local interest in solar for both private developers and utilities.
Virmani runs through the arguments for prioritizing renewables—including the industry’s rapid growth, the plummeting cost of the technology, and the opportunity to catch up on Canada’s and New Brunswick’s carbon reduction promises under the Paris climate agreement—in a part of the country that “has notoriously struggled to find an economic salvation from our status as a ‘have-not’ province. While “renewable energy policy here in New Brunswick is abysmally inadequate,” he says, “the solutions to improve policy here simply require the political will to enact them.”