A must-read weekly review of the policy news, issues and events that are driving change in Atlantic Canada

PPF: Atlantic Momentum Newsletter

Hello, here’s the Atlantic news we’re tracking this week, from Nova Scotia’s big battery plays, on land and sea, to more tension in the elver fishery:

Wind powers that be

The governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia are pushing the Canadian Senate to pass a bill that would extend the authority of their offshore oil boards to also regulate wind power.

Nova Scotia Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton and Newfoundland’s Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology Andrew Parsons, told senators that Bill C-49 would allow their provinces to move ahead on developing major offshore renewable energy projects.

Expanding the oil board’s authority would enable Newfoundland and Labrador to develop some of the first large-scale projects for green hydrogen, said Parsons. Nova Scotia wants to offer offshore leases for 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 with licenses to be jointly managed by Ottawa and the province. The first call for bids is expected by next year.

Both cabinet ministers said they were working with First Nations in developing their wind energy industries.

But Senator Mary Jan McCallum cited a letter from the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs telling the Senate that it needed more time to analyze the bill. Rushton, who was joined by representatives of the Potlotek and Membertou development corporations, said he was unaware of the assembly’s letter.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union also spoke of its concern that the bill is being rushed and that offshore wind projects could encroach on fishing. Although the fishing industry and the renewable energy sector can work alongside one another, the bill needs some amendments, a union spokesperson said.

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Battery positions

The provincial utility regulator is backing Nova Scotia Power’s plan to spend $243 million to build three giant battery farms in Spider Lake, Kings County and Bridgewater.

The new battery facilities are supposed to ensure Nova Scotia Power has the capacity to store cheaper off-peak energy and meet growing peak demand, which is expanding with the electrification of cars and transport, as well as homes.

The power company hasn’t yet said what effect its plan will have on electricity rates.

The NS Utility and Review Board ruled that the expense is a requirement of the province’s own legislation that was passed in March 2023 mandating the installation of three 50-MW, lithium-ion grid scale batteries. In a 17-page decision released June 13, the review board said, “The cost of the project is justified and the board finds it reasonable.”

The total planned cost of the battery farms is $354 million but the federal government is paying $115.6 million. Nova Scotia Power is partnering with 13 Mi’kmaw communities, the Wskijinu’k Mtmo’taqnuow Agency Ltd., backed by the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

“The $138.2 million loan will enable the project to proceed by completing the capital investment structure,” said the bank on its website. It is the first equity loan under CIB’s Indigenous Equity Initiative.

Nova Scotia Power says it expects to begin building the battery farms this year through 2026 with the first site up and running next year. The battery project has a 20-year lifespan and Nova Scotia has committed to eliminating coal power by 2030 when the province aims to be at 80 percent renewable energy.

Read more: Project of the Century: A blueprint for growing Canada’s clean electricity supply – and fast

Sinking feeling

The Transportation Safety Board is warning that other submersibles carrying people have remained active in Canadian waters even after five people died in the shocking implosion of the Titan southeast of Newfoundland last June.

The independent safety agency’s investigation into the Titan disaster found some submersibles were registered in Canada and other countries — but not all. That makes it difficult to ascertain their safety certifications.

“The investigation has been unable to confirm whether these submersibles have been subject to oversight by (Transport Canada) or other certifying bodies,” the safety board said in a letter to Transport Canada, released publicly on June 17.

The uncertified Titan lost contact about two hours into its descent last June 18. It was about 600 kms off Port Race, Nfld., with three paying customers on board to view the wreck of the Titanic 4,000 feet below the surface. Stockton Rush, the CEO of OceanGate, the company that built the Titan, was among those who perished.

The Transportation Safety Board’s letter said there are regulatory requirements regarding the operation of submersibles and an internal Transport Canada policy about passengers on those craft that dates back to 2005. But the agency said it hadn’t been able to confirm whether some of the vessels had been subject to Transport Canada or other oversight.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, it was revealed that engineers and other experts both from outside and inside the company had urged OceanGate to seek more testing and certification for its underwater vessel, made with a carbon fiber hull. But, according to a recent report by Wired, the company was struggling financially and the cost of certification was daunting. The same report suggested that OceanGate saw Titanic tourism as a moneymaker.

In happier explorer news

A Canadian expedition discovered the wreck of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s last ship, Quest. The leader of the team told the Globe and Mail that they launched their search after catching wind that an American team was also on the hunt for the ship.

Shackleton died onboard the Quest of a heart attack during a trip to Antarctica in 1922. John Geiger, chief executive of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, said that as early as this summer his team will take underwater photos of the ship, which sank on a sealing expedition in 1962 off the coast of Labrador.


Nova Scotia is investing in more sustainable fishing and aquaculture by helping convert small and mid-sized vessels into hybrid diesel-electric boats.

As part of a joint funding program, the province is giving $198,000 for a demonstration program to Halifax’s Glas Ocean Electric, a marine hardware and software company. It has developed a kit that adds a battery-powered electric motor to the vessel through the same driveline as the diesel engine.

The funding is part of a three-year, $6.5 million Fisheries and Aquaculture Energy Efficiency Fund(FAEEIF) by the provincial Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture and non-profit Efficiency Nova.

Marine operators are also eligible to receive grants through the FAEEIF that cover up to half of the cost of converting to hybrid diesel-electric up to a maximum of $250,000.

Glas Ocean’s technology will lower carbon emissions and reduce noise for marine communities, said the company. It allows the vessel’s operator to switch seamlessly from diesel to electric power depending on the conditions or according to the recommendations of AI software that gathers real-time data on sea and weather conditions via sensors on the boat. It can be installed on any kind of working vessel, including ferries and tour boats and pleasure craft.

It’s a “pragmatic” and “well designed” approach, said Glas Ocean CEO Sue Molloy. “We are racing against the climate clock regarding marine emissions.”

It’s important to keep diesel systems intact while the industry transitions to all-electric or hybrid with net-zero fuels and until electric motor support is more widely available in Nova Scotia, said the company. Glas Ocean has already received $2 million in American seed money.


Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is considering allocating more elver fishing licences to First Nations fishers. The government is looking at increasing the percentage of First Nations licenses to 50 percent from 28 percent. It’s a move that would help Indigenous fishers earn a “moderate livelihood,” according to Ottawa, but has upset some existing license holders.

It is also considering more commercial licenses to harvest the baby eels, the CBC reported.

The Canadian Committee for a Sustainable Eel Fishery says it wants to support First Nations interests, but there are other ways to do that without impinging on existing license holders.

A council spokesperson said some license holders are willing to sell their rights back to the Department of Fisheries so their quotas can be reallocated to First Nations, but he said it wouldn’t be fair to reassign those fishing rights without compensation.

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs has said it recognizes the treaty rights of First Nations to harvest the eels but it wants to look further at the implications of the government proposal. Some Mi’kmaw have suggested the new policy risks over-fishing the eels.

Elvers are harvested in the spring from rivers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But the practice is so rife with poaching and threats of violence that the government didn’t even open the season this year, closing the commercial elver fishery in March.

In May, however, 109 kg of elvers, with an estimated value of $400,000 to $500,000, were seized at Pearson airport in Toronto. The eels fetch up to $5,000 per kg on the Asian market. This year, there have been 169 arrests related to elver fishing, according to Fisheries and Oceans, with a top official telling CBC that many of those will be charged as part of a government crackdown on illegal practices.

Airline ups and downs

Bermuda’s national airline announced it’s adding a second weekly flight to Halifax. BermudAir launched the service in May and said the inaugural flights have been full and bookings “solid ever since.”

In other aviation news (which will surely make tourism officials’ heads spin) around 250 passengers were stranded in the Gander, Nfld., airport terminal for over 12 hours last week after their flight from Washington to Paris was diverted and border officials didn’t clear them to leave the airport.

Canada Border Services Agency apologized for the incident and “any inconveniences experienced.” On the bright side, the Gander international lounge is a pretty cool place to spend a night.

On the horizon


  • June 25, CPI (May)
  • June 28, GDP (April)


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