NB Power and Nova Scotia Power say they’re teaming up for a pilot project they say could save the utilities up to $20 million in fuel costs and may help reduce rate increases for customers.
The Crown-owned New Brunswick utility and Nova Scotia Power (TSX:EMA) say a new dispatch system will allow them to purchase electricity from each other at cheaper rates on a daily basis.
Keith Cronkhite, the vice-president of business development at NB Power, said Friday key savings will occur as the two utility companies buy power generated at plants burning coal, oil or natural gas. He said the system will allow either utility to buy energy based on which plants are able to get the best price for the fuels.
Cronkhite said he doesn’t expect nuclear power from the Point Lepreau plant in New Brunswick, wind, solar or other renewable energy to be exchanged under the system and it won’t have a significant impact on each province’s carbon emissions. But a limited amount of hydroelectricity will flow between the two provinces, most likely during the spring runoff, he added.
I’ll leave it for people smarter than me to explain how nuclear power can be separated out from the power grid. (I’m not opposed to using nuclear power from Point Lepreau, especially as a backup for intermittent wind farms; just, the statement sounds silly.) But reader Peggy Cameron asks me via email, “If NSP can collaborate on grid interconnection with NB Power why aren’t we buying electricity from HydroQuebec and shutting down coal-fired generating plants?”
2. Dal Jungle
Without her permission or knowledge, a photo showing a 17-year-old female student performing oral sex on a male student was posted to an Instagram account called “Dal Jungle” shared by male students living in the Howe Hall dorm at Dalhousie University. Chronicle Herald reporter Frances Willick interviewed a source pseudonymously named Hanna for the story:
Although Hanna believes the student who took and posted the oral sex photo should have been kicked out of school, she didn’t want the others to face serious consequences.
“Most of the guys who were following this account were not bad boys,” she said. “They just were following this account because they were friends with these guys and they had nothing to do with it.”
She estimates there were about 50 followers of the Dal Jungle account.
Four male students were kicked out of residence in mid-November, Hanna said, and a fifth was kicked out about a week later. The male student who was receiving oral sex in the photo was moved to a different residence.
A second student source confirmed to The Chronicle Herald that the “users” of the Instagram page are no longer living in Howe Hall.
About 15 students were also banned from drinking alcohol as a result of the investigation, Hanna said, adding that none were expelled.
3. Examineradio Episode #5
This week, Coun. Linda Mosher found not guilty of traffic infraction after hitting cyclist with SUV; Halifax (née Metro) Transit to finally get long-awaited GPS system; Coun. Waye Mason weighs in on what to do with the Khyber Building; and Halifax Fire Chief Doug Trussler defends his reorganization plan after getting an earful from city council.
Listen to Episode #5 of Examineradio below, or subscribe to the Examineradio podcast via iTunes. Starting yesterday, Examineradio is now also broadcast on CKDU, 88.1 FM, Fridays at 4:30–5pm.
Every place I’ve ever lived has myths of “secret tunnels” running under the town, and Halifax is no different. Sunday, CBC is airing Halifax Underground, a documentary by filmmaker Scott Simpson and Tell Tale Productions, which explores the tale of myriad tunnels under Halifax, including the absolutely absurd notion that there’s a secret tunnel running from Citadel Hill to Georges Island.
Recently, a Facebook page that discusses my old hometown of Chico, California was discussing the “Chinese tunnels” that supposedly exist under that town, and I went and dug up something I wrote about the tunnels in 2000:
Old Town, on Flume Street between Fifth and Sixth, was a center of the various vice trades—gambling, prostitution, and above all, opium— and the police would periodically raid the houses. The Chinese soon learned to connect their basements, and even to extend new tunnels under Flume Street, so that when one building was raided the occupants could safely emerge down the road and escape out the back of another. This is the origin of the legendary “Chinese Tunnels” in Chico. Many decades later, at the turn of the twentieth century, competing and non-cooperating utility companies established an elaborate network of tunnels beneath the streets in the business district of town—one for water, one for gas, another for sewers, and a fourth for electricity—none of which had anything to do with the Chinese, but in the common mind the earlier labyrinth beneath Chinatown was confused with business district tunnels, such that nowadays every utility service duct in town is referred to as a “Chinese Tunnel.”
It was easy to dig through the loam of the Sacramento Valley. Not so much in Halifax.
Still, I suspect that much the same sort of conflation of past events is at work here in Halifax. Early on, there may have been a handful of tunnels dug for military purposes, especially on the drumlin of Citadel Hill, where it was relatively easy to dig through the clay. But beyond inter-connecting basements, any hard-dug tunnels through the slate in the business district were for profit-driven utility companies, and would be as short and narrow as possible. Such tunnels are only “secret” because who pays attention to utility lines? I bet most readers don’t even know where their own water meter is. Do you know where the sewer flows outside your house? Which direction the water main comes from?
And to Georges Island? Please. With all our modern technology, explosives, and detailed geologic maps, we’d have a hard time digging a tunnel through the slate beneath 18 metres of ocean today, and such an enterprise would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. There is no way people in 18th or 19th century Halifax would even seriously contemplate such a project, never mind successfully complete it, and in secret no less. That’s just delusional.
“Snowfall amounts of 10 to possibly 15 centimetres by Sunday morning,” says Environment Canada.
We should help the homeless, says Jim Meek.
2. Energy efficiency
Rachel Brighton gives a detailed explanation of the evolution of energy efficiency programs related to electrical generation over the past few years, including the cynical removal of the energy efficiency surcharge on power bills (cynical because it didn’t save customers a single penny, but hid the charge in overall power rates). But, she concludes, because Nova Scotia Power is now in a position to battle over over the particulars of measures proposed by the new efficiency agency, EfficiencyOne — to argue about the efficiency of efficiency, if you will — power users may benefit:
So in a strange turn of events, Nova Scotia Power, which regularly comes under public scrutiny for its executive salaries, will be standing on the side of customers, checking every nickel and dime spent by EfficiencyOne, including the remuneration of its staff.
If the utility can extract a better deal from the new efficiency czar, ratepayers may yet find a reason to thank Andrew Younger.
I think Brighton is entirely too optimistic here. She’s right that Nova Scotia Power might save money in the short term by cutting back the most marginal efficiency proposals, but the point of energy efficiency measures is to reduce consumption in the long term, so that the province doesn’t need to build another generating station, which will end up costing ratepayers far more than the relatively puny costs of added efficiency.
There’s also that cataclysmic climate change thing, but I guess no one cares about that anymore.
3. Snow clearing pt. 1
Lezlie Lowe is righteously angry about our loss of sidewalks:
This has nothing to do with record snowfalls. It’s about the abject dismissal of a truth: sidewalks are equal players in the municipal game. They are not luxuries, not peripheral to municipal transportation. Their users are not merely out for leisurely strolls. Sidewalks are heavily used, essential pieces of infrastructure that need to work properly for the city to properly work.
4. Snow clearing pt. 2
Phillip Cochrane managed Halifax’s snow-clearing operations for 30 years before retiring in 2002. He tells the Chronicle Herald today that the poor state of our roads and sidewalks this winter is a governance failure:
Cochrane dismisses the “it’s a bad winter” argument.
“We haven’t experienced anything this year that we haven’t experienced in other years,” he said. “I don’t think they can excuse it by things like climate change. They were not prepared with what they needed to handle this winter.
“They can’t keep passing the buck and saying it was a bad winter or it was an anomaly. Good managers who know about snow and ice always plan for the worst-case scenario.”
Cochrane blames years of belt-tightening at city hall dating back to amalgamation, not the workers on the ground doing their best to improve conditions.
“Snow- and ice-clearing is a crucial service but it hasn’t been given the priority it should have over the years. This hasn’t happened all at once. It’s been a slow, steady, downhill support for equipment and manpower to do the job right.
5. Snow clearing pt. 3
Allison Sparling got a couple of businesses to cough up some gift certificates as prizes for a contest she is hosting. People can enter by shovelling their sidewalks and taking photos of it. Sparling adds:
Many people rely on active transportation such as cycling or walking to get where they need to go. It’s important to encourage this to be proactive about healthcare in our province. I feel I need to indicate that the city really screwed up here. Their reaction to the most recent storm seems to have been as good as it possibly can be, but the last 3 months of miserable sidewalks where people can barely leave their house has been embarrassing. This winter was full of abnormal weather, but not so abnormal that it couldn’t have been managed better. We need political action to ensure that this does not happen next year, but right now we just need to make it through this season. It’s important to note that these are my personal views, and not the views of any other people / businesses, but I want to highlight that this is a stop gap, not a solution.
6. Cranky letter of the day
Seriously, are you kidding me? All this whining and complaining about the snow state of Halifax? Blaming everyone you can think of, but the real culprit is Mother Nature. What a bunch of spoiled brats we are. Yes, I got it. HRM should have been on the ball in earlier storms, no doubt there. Yes, I’ve complained, too, because it wasn’t what it was.
To the gentleman (March 24) who compared HRM managers to the Toronto Maple Leafs: your attack on winter operations director Darrin Natolino was almost personal. Shame on you. If you’ve stuck with the loser Leafs this long, you must still believe. Then believe in your city. (I’ve been a fan since 1968 and I still believe, too.)
To the gentleman who remarked that so many things are “not normal” (March 24 letter): Well, this was not a normal winter. No one could have prepared or planned for this, no one expected it, we were all stunned. But look at you, you survived and still have enough spunk in you to write a letter to the editor. Yay, you! Now, why don’t you put that spunk in your shovel and help all of us get Halifax back to “normal”?
Belinda Gurnham, Halifax
In the harbour
I’ve been noticing that as this never-ending winter continues, the local commentariat has been increasingly silent. It’s as if people have simply given up on being engaged with anything beyond survival. I understand; I too seem not to have the energy I used to have. The plan for this weekend is to catch up on paperwork, and maybe work on a small detail on the website that’s been bothering me. See you Monday.