Renewable Electricity Plan concerns Forest Industry
Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS) has concerns with Nova Scotia's new Renewable Electricity Plan released on Friday (April 23rd) by the provincial government (.pdf).
FPANS has long been an advocate for third-party certification programs that promote sustainable forest management. FPANS also promotes the fact that there are a number of programs that meet that standard - not just one. FPANS is very concerned that the Nova Scotia Government is creating a monopoly for one certification system and limiting the options electricity producers will have for using biomass. Unnecessarily restrictive limitations have been set by requiring all forest biomass used to produce new green electricity to come only from companies with lands that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
The plan places further restrictions requiring that biomass come only from stem boles (tree stems) and not from tree tops, limbs, bark, etc. FPANS is concerned that this requirement is not based in science.
"By placing these restrictions on where biomass can come from, we believe the government has taken environmental and economic opportunities away from countless Nova Scotians and will have a direct effect on the forest industry," comments Steve Talbot, Executive Director of FPANS. "We fully understand the importance of ensuring forest sustainability - that's our livelihood - but why make arbitrary restrictions that cut out the vast majority of woodland owners, forest fibre providers or potential energy producers from helping provide more green energy to this province."
FPANS also has concerns that the plan did not move forward with feed-in-tariffs (FITs) for small scale electricity production at private businesses, like sawmills and farms. With access to a more open FIT program, these companies could have sold excess electricity to the grid with small changes to their current energy production systems. Without the guaranteed return of a FIT program, these projects will not move forward, helping to secure industry jobs and reach the province's green energy targets.
Forestry is a vital industry in Nova Scotia. It is a part of our past. It is a bright, green key to our future. And it is the backbone of the rural economy. With just over 70% of the industry’s workforce based in rural parts of the province, the forest industry generates approximately $140 million in taxes, and exports over $1 billion in products all over the world each year. FPANS members represent a wide cross-section of all parts of the forest industry.