The what and why of energy security in Nova Scotia

One responsibility of any government in a developed country is to ensure that its citizens have a reliable and uninterrupted supply of energy at reasonable rates, or simply energy security. The loss of energy security can have an impact on any government; consider President Carter imploring Americans to use less energy in the late 1970s; the Trudeau government's National Energy Programme in the early 1980s; and Governor Davis's energy rationing policies during the California blackouts in 2000-01.

Energy security is becoming an issue in many countries:

Energy security is also an issue in Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia's Energy Strategy discusses energy security, primarily in terms of how the province's offshore natural gas supplies could be used to enhance the energy security of Nova Scotia, Canada, and the United States. This over-inflated view of Nova Scotia's importance as an energy player was all part of the misplaced enthusiasm that accompanied the development of Nova Scotia's offshore.

The Energy Strategy also states:

"Energy efficiency and conservation provide substantial benefits, including reduced energy demand, thereby improving Nova Scotia's energy security."

Although there is a degree of truth to this statement, it overlooks two facts: first, that the vast majority of the province's energy is imported, and second, that the province has yet to embark on an energy efficiency or conservation programme. Relying on imported energy, even if the energy is used efficiently, may reduce demand, but still leaves the province vulnerable to the vagaries of world energy markets; to achieve energy security, it will take more than the adoption of energy efficiency and conservation measures.

Energy security is best achieved by relying on indigenous energy sources, to which the local jurisdiction has access and (ideally) control. In Nova Scotia's case, this would mean the development of:

Rising energy costs and the environmental impacts of energy usage are two reasons for the provincial government to recognize the importance of energy security and revise its Energy Strategy now.

Published Chronicle-Herald, 26 May 2005