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Schools Connect Energy & Sustainability in Our Community

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Did you know that the Town of Mahone Bay operates the Ellershouse Wind Farm with the Towns of Berwick and Antigonish? This seven-turbine operation was the first wind development in Nova Scotia that was funded and built independently of the provincial power utility or incentives from the provincial government. The wind farm is a 16.1 MW development in West Hants built by developer Minas Energy, in cooperation with Bullfrog Power, and owned and operated by Alternative Resource Energy Authority (Newswire, 2017). The Ellershouse Wind Farm supplies the baseload energy to the three towns but when the wind is calm, or during peak power events, Mahone Bay must purchase their electricity from Nova Scotia Power. 

Peak power is when everyone is using a lot of energy at the same time. For Mahone Bay that time is between 8:00 and 11:30 am on weekday mornings. Want a better understanding of peak power? Check out the explanation from kids in this video from Énergie NB Power or a simple explanation from the Government of Ontario.

During peak power events we need to meet the higher demand by purchasing energy from power plants that burn fossil fuels, and that energy costs more. If we decrease energy use during peak times, the source of energy for towns like Mahone Bay could be cleaner. When the demand for energy does not spike, most of the energy for Mahone Bay homes can come from the Ellershouse Wind Farm instead of carbon-heavy fossil fuels. When Mahone Bay needs more energy than is available from wind, electricity is purchased from Nova Scotia Power at a set price. That price is set during peak power events during the coldest days of the year when temperatures are below -15°C. 

To ‘Beat The Peak,’ the Town of Mahone Bay has championed the Power Pledge. Here at Green Schools, we are always keen to link student learning to community projects, and the Mahone Bay Power Pledge is an ideal initiative to share with local students at Bayview Community School. This is an important community effort that will impact families and children in Mahone Bay for years to come by focusing on clean energy and helping stabilize the price of energy.

The Power Pledge asks that households commit to saving energy during ‘The Peak’ with some easy strategies:

• Put on a sweater or grab a blanket before turning up the heat
• Cut morning showers by two minutes
• Take a bath in the afternoon or evening
• Turn down the heat while not at home
• Adjust heat to warm the house before 8 am
• Do most laundry on weekends
• Iron clothing in the evening
• Brew coffee or tea before 8 am
• Not use an oven for breakfast on weekdays
• Not use a clothes dryer on weekday mornings

If everyone in Mahone Bay takes the Power Pledge they would reduce their use of fossil fuels and also reduce the cost of energy to be purchased from Nova Scotia Power in the future. So many positive impacts!

As an Engagement Officer for Green Schools, I brought this awesome local initiative to Bayview Community School students to help them learn about the impact of their personal choices. I talked to the whole student body in three different age groups so students could understand that their everyday choices impact the Earth and that we can choose to live more sustainably. The students were introduced to peak power, the Mahone Bay Power Pledge initiative, and then students generated ideas on how they can save energy. Based on feedback from the school, the conversations continued in classrooms after the presentations, and students were excited to make changes and share what they learned with their parents.

You don’t have to live in Mahone Bay to ‘Beat the Peak’. Learn more energy saving tips from Efficiency Nova Scotia.


~Natalie McMaster
Engagement Officer

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