Community Energy

The introduction of a community feed-in tariff (COMFIT) was a key aspect of Nova Scotia’s renewable energy strategy until it was cancelled in the summer of 2015. Five different types of community-based entities were eligible to participate in the program, including municipalities, First Nations, co-operatives, not-for-profits, and Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIFs).

CEDIFs[1] are a community-based investment tool unique to Nova Scotia, typically used to finance community-led initiatives in the for-profit sector (i.e. projects funded by CEDIFs must be expected to create revenue).

A significant proportion of community energy development that took place through the COMFIT program was in the form of co-ownership via limited partnership agreements.[2] Co-ownership attempts to reconcile conflicts and differences between developers and local residents for renewable energy development by creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

The success of the COMFIT program exceeded expectations. Approximately 100 MW of COMFIT projects were initially anticipated.and, to date, the province has approved over 120 individual projects that will have a combined capacity of ~240 MW.

 

[1] CEDIFs exist as a means of selling shares to local investors in order to generate capital for a new company. CEDIFs are designed to be an alternative to traditional investments, in order to ensure that money invested by Nova Scotians goes towards helping local businesses and communities thrive, rather than being invested out of province. As CEDIF companies are required to be profitable, taxable entities, they are good candidates for community energy projects, as they allow a distribution of the risk associated with renewable energy development during the capital-raising phase, and they explicitly tie the profits from energy sales to local investors.

[2] Municipalities are generally the exception since the Nova Scotia Municipal Government Act, 1998 precluded them from making capital expenditures for equipment or infrastructure for which they are not the sole owner.

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