Coal remains powerful
Peter Parsons / Herald Photo
Emera Inc. COO Chris Huskilson and Nova Scotia
Power COO Ralph Tedesco speak to reporters in
Halifax on Thursday.
NSP plans to keep burning fuel 'for some fairly long time'
By Judy Myrden / Business Reporter
Burning coal will remain a staple for Nova Scotia's largest electric utility
into the next decade, Chris Huskilson, Emera Inc.'s chief operating officer,
"Fundamentally, we believe that coal will be part of our mix for some fairly
long time to come," Mr. Huskilson said during an editorial meeting with this
newspaper. He was accompanied by Nova Scotia Power's new chief operating
officer, Ralph Tedesco.
About 60 per cent of NSP's generating capacity is coal-fired, with imports from
the U.S. and Venezuela to generate power at its four coal-fired electricity
plants. About 10 per cent of NSP's coal supply is domestic, he said.
"One question that's out there right now is just how much coal will we have from
domestic supplies?" asked Mr. Huskilson, who heads operations for NSP's parent
company, Emera Inc.
He said the utility is facing a huge challenge to keep the lights on in the
province and meet its requirements to reduce greenhouse gases.
"I think everything in the energy game has its constraints," said Mr Tedesco.
"Fossil fuels, you have emission issues. Renewables, you have how much can you
This, he said, is a much broader issue than NSP and must address what Nova
Scotians expect and are willing to pay for energy.
At NSP, operating and maintenance costs for coal generation are about 2.5 cents
per kilowatt hour. Meanwhile, it costs about seven cents per kilowatt hour for
"How we can ensure that Nova Scotia stays economically healthy because
obviously, energy is a very key component," said Mr. Tedesco, who was appointed
Natural gas can supplement but not replace coal, hydro is currently maximized
and wind has its limits, Mr. Huskilson said.
Renewable sources of energy such as natural gas, hydro and wind power produce
about nine per cent of the province's electricity.
NSP is looking at adding a $25-million gas-fired generator next year to meet
growing demand for electricity.
"The consumption of energy in the province has continued to increase. That's
good news, that means the economy is going along very well," Mr. Huskilson
However, the utility will have to decide whether any new supply of electricity
should come from renewables or a new power generator.
"We work in a business where folks expect the lights to come on. Meeting that
obligation we take very seriously," Mr. Tedesco said.
NSP is spending about $30 million on a new pier at Point Tupper to allow the
utility to import cleaner coal from South Africa, Russia and Indonesia for use
at its Trenton power plant.
The new wharf should be operational next year.
Currently, NSP operates two wind turbines in Grand Etang, Inverness Co., and
Little Brook, Digby Co.
It is also going to buy wind power from Atlantic Wind Power's project in Pubnico
Mr. Huskilson said the utility is also looking at the feasibility of setting up
a wind turbine on the southern coast within the year. The utility has set up
six test sites there - some of them are on islands and some are on the coast,
said Mr. Huskilson.
"If there is a good wind resource then we would look to set up some wind coastal
generation," he said.