DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY GENERATING RENEWABLE ENERGY THROUGH THE COMFIT PROGRAM: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY
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Our team undertook an exploratory research project to explain how Dalhousie University could produce renewable electricity using wind power within the context of Nova Scotia’s Community-based Feed in Tariff (COMFIT) program. The COMFIT program allows communities to create renewable electricity that connects to the provincial electricity grid. In return, Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) pays the communities a set, premium rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) for their energy. Efficiently structured interviews were conducted with people who had technological, financial, and/or administrative expertise, as well as, potential partners and current COMFIT applicants. The results have been presented under six categories: (1) project scale, (2) project finance, (3) partnership models, (4) project locations, (5) student engagement opportunities, (6) application process. The development of a COMFIT project requires a large, up-front capital investment. Different financing and partnership options were explored. The majority of interview participants believed that Dalhousie University would be able to make a valuable financial contribution to a COMFIT project by contributing equity and potentially helping obtain a low interest-rate loan. After the payback period a COMFIT project generates revenue that could be re-invested into the Dalhousie University community. Due to setback regulations Dalhousie University would lease, purchase, or partner to obtain a suitable location for a COMFIT project. Prospective locations must have sufficient wind resources, access to available grid capacity, zoning regulations that comply with the scale of the project, along with meeting COMFIT application regulations. There are opportunities for student learning and engagement is a COMFIT project. By participating in this program Dalhousie University has the opportunity to mitigate climate change, meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, curtail rising energy costs, generate revenue and engage students in learning opportunities in the emerging renewable energy industry. Dalhousie University has the right financial, technological, and partnership resources available to ensure the success of a COMFIT undertaking. The report provides the information and contacts necessary for additional research into a Dalhousie University COMFIT project.