Since we are talking energy policy these days I was reminded of an idea a few folks (including myself) floated a few years ago. The idea was for the NB government to take a stake in the Sussex natural gas deposit and use the gas to fire a natural gas electricity plant. Since the government would own the gas, the operating costs would be relatively low and the government could have offered that power for whatever rate it wanted -subject to a tax-based ROI. In other words, you create great jobs that pay high taxes and you will get cheap energy.
The idea was immediately discounted and turfed of course. This is New Brunswick. Danny Williams went ahead and bought a stake in Hibernia south (in addition to the federal government investment in the original hibernia). New Brunswick owned NB Coal and controlled its own supply of coal at one point.
But heaven forbid that the government get in the business of owning gas.
I realize this is a small idea in the big scheme of things but innovative thinking matters – particularly in the long term.
A report came out last week indicating a whole lot of gas under our feet. Between Sussex and Elgin there’s an estimated 67 trillion cubic feet of natural gas trapped in a 300-metre-thick shale formation that starts two kilometres down. In the not too distant future this gas should be economically viable (the current Sussex gas is from the same system). Maybe at that time we can get old Danny to hobble over here and negotiate for us.