Nova Scotia approves NewPage plan to burn trees for power
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has just announced that its approval of the NewPage Port Hawkesbury and Nova Scotia Power's proposal to burn trees to create power.
Approval was granted, with conditions. In particular, any costs that exceed $208 million must be borne by shareholders, not by ratepayers in the province. This means that Nova Scotia Power's customers can not receive a rate increase due to this project.
The plan has many skeptics, including those who simply don't believe Nova Scotia has enough trees to begin harvesting them for burning. Others are asking how this plan could possibly be based on a sustainable harvest. Environmentalists are concerned the project will lead to more clearcutting.
NewPage’s current papermaking operations in Nova Scotia require 250,000-300,000 tonnes of wood a year. The proposed power generating facility would require 600,000-700,000 tonnes of biomass a year. The wood will be burned to fire a steam generator to produce about 3% of the province's electricity needs. This is not waste wood that will be burned - it is stem wood. Tree stumps, tops and branches will not be removed from the forest.
Others have called into question the long term financial viability of NewPage.