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Unjust rewards 

Tim Bousquet takes NSP millionaires to task.

One of the best ways to make a lot of money in Nova Scotia is to trash the planet.

Consider: Last year Ralph Tedesco, CEO of Nova Scotia Power, and Chris Huskilson, CEO of NSP’s parent company, Emera, were paid $2.6 million and $1.2 million respectively in salary and bonuses.

If we’re to accept the logic that the two are individually responsible for bringing profit to Emera shareholders, then it’s fair to say that Tedesco and Huskilson are also personally responsible for everything else the company does, including the tremendous amount of pollution spewed out of its smokestacks.

And when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, NSP is as bad as they come.

NSP is the fifth largest corporate source of GHG emissions in Canada. Its five largest power plants emitted a staggering 10,648,422 tonnes of GHG in 2005, fully 46 percent of the amount produced by the entire province—including all our driving, home heating, etc.

The Tufts Cove plant on Halifax Harbour can burn either relatively high-GHG-polluting fuel oil, or natural gas, which produces about a third less by way of GHGs. However, Tedesco and Huskilson have, over the past five years, opted to ship their natural-gas supplies to New England for a tidy profit, and instead burn the higher-polluting fuel oil at Tufts Cove.

You may have done everything in your power to cut your electricity use—replaced your light bulbs, bought efficient appliances, put in power bars—but in terms of GHG emissions, Tedesco and Huskilson have counteracted every bit of good you’ve done by sticking with fuel oil at Tufts Cove.

Even worse, the real GHG monsters are the company’s hugely polluting coal plants. Each year the Lingan plant in Cape Breton pumps out 4.4 million tonnes of CO2, the primary GHG. The nearby Trenton plant produces about half that much, and the Point Aconi and Point Tupper plants aren’t far behind.

What have Tedesco and Huskilson done to reduce those amounts? Not a damn thing.

For an upcoming Coast story, I’ve talked to dozens of environmentalists and academics who study power generation. To a person, they speak of NSP as a notoriously conservative and backwards corporation, one that fears change and actively opposes any attempt to force the company to switch to renewable energy sources.

To be sure, NSP has agreed to provincial regulations that will require the company to acquire 18.5 percent of its power from renewable sources—a broad category that includes hydro, wind, tidal and biomass generation—by 2013. Sounds good? Think again. For one thing, the company already reaches about half the target with its hydro power plants.

More importantly, the scientific consensus is that industrial countries need to reduce their GHG emissions quickly and sharply—by about 80 percent by 2050, lest the planet be plunged into an irreversible state of runaway global warming. If we don’t, life as we know it will pretty much come to an end. The Nova Scotia government agrees so it has signed on to a “Climate Action Plan” that calls for reducing GHG emissions by 75 to 85 percent.

But if NSP were to increase its renewable power generation to 18.5 percent, its GHG emissions would be cut by only about 10 percent.

In that event, were the rest of us to completely eliminate everything (non-electricity related) we did to produce GHGs—if we stopped driving, took no buses or ferries, stopped heating our houses—NSP by itself would still exceed by 300 percent the provincial goals for future GHG emission levels.

Tedesco and Huskilson appear determined to help destroy the planet. And for that, they are paid millions.

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