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NS Power meetingThe mayor of the Municipality of Cumberland is pleased with how responsive Nova Scotia Power has been to open the lines of communication with community and business leaders across the county.

Peter Gregg, the president and CEO of the power corporation, came to Springhill on Thursday, May 25, 2023, along with several other company representatives to update municipal and business leaders on what it’s doing to meet new environmental targets and to listen to concerns.

“Nova Scotia Power provides a vital service to Cumberland County and it was great how they reached out to see if they could open a dialogue with us,” Murray Scott said following the meeting at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre. “To have the president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power and senior staff come here is unheard of and the care and support they’re showing for us is evident. We had a great discussion and it was a tremendous opportunity for feedback.”

The mayor said it’s an opportunity for the community and the power corporation to work together on finding solutions instead of working against each other. He said having an open communication line with the power corporation will help the municipality when the next major storm comes.

“Sometimes we feel that we’re so far removed from Halifax and it’s nice to be able to have that direct contact with Peter Gregg and maybe have the ability to have someone at the table when these major events happen so decisions can be made together,” Mayor Scott said. “It would mean a lot to us and I really look forward to increasing that relationship.

“To have it so our EMO coordinator can pick up a phone and call someone in Nova Scotia Power that actually makes decisions and have a relationship with them means so much to us.”

Gregg said it’s important to open and maintain communication with residents and business leaders. He said his team heard a lot of constructive feedback from those in attendance and is committed to doing a better job of communicating.

“This is about communication and the importance of talking to community and business leaders to hear their concerns and interests and where we can work together on those shared interests. That’s the real value of this,” Gregg said. “It’s important to continue to have this type of dialogue here and across the province.”

The meeting was the first one that included Gregg and other officials from Nova Scotia Power meeting with both municipal leaders and representatives of the business community. Gregg suggested it’s a partnership the power corporation would like to continue.

Gregg also talked about Nova Scotia Power’s commitment to switch to green energy by 2030, including using 80 percent renewable energy and shutting down its coal units. Its path to 2030 includes a new transmission build from Salisbury, N.B. to Onslow, N.S., proposed grid-scale battery projects at three Nova Scotia locations, implementing new wind capacity from the province’s wind procurement program and developing new fast-acting generation to support the rapid growth in renewables coming online.

It also continues to have discussions with both the federal and provincial governments on the potential of the Atlantic Loop, a 1,000-kilometre high-capacity bi-directional line connecting Atlantic Canada with Quebec and the North American energy market.

He said the power corporation plans to spend just over $6 million in capital investment in northern Nova Scotia, including $3.2 million on regional vegetation management in Cumberland County. This includes 178 kilometres of tree trimming which aims to widen rights-of-way onto private property, something that requires permission from the landowner.

While 2023 has been relatively calm for Nova Scotia Power, Gregg said it comes after one of the most difficult years the corporation has ever faced.

“2022 was the worst weather year we had on record. We had 43 days last year when were in 24-hours-a-day emergency operations. Seventeen of those were related to Fiona and the rest of them were winter storms,” he said. “That’s 12 percent of the year. With more extreme weather we’re going to see more of that, although thankfully so far this year it has been a smooth year, but we have to prepare because we know what’s coming.”