The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has awarded the first retail supplier licence to what is expected to be Nova Scotia Power’s rival in the business of selling renewable electricity directly to consumers.

A numbered company subsidiary of Roswall Development Inc., a renewable energy company based in Halifax, has been given the licence. It is an essential step in the company’s plans to develop a 33-megawatt wind farm on Crown land that was part of the Bowater Mersey holdings near Milton in Queens County.

Roswall president Dan Roscoe told CBC it means Nova Scotians will now have a choice from whom they purchase electricity.

“Today, history was made in Nova Scotia,” he said.

The company forecasts sales to 15 industrial and about 800 residential customers starting in late 2023.

“It’s an important tool for accelerating our transition to a green economy. This will enable both individuals and businesses to achieve their various carbon goals,” said Roscoe, a wind power developer and the renewable energy lead at Cape Breton’s Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment.

The licence is just a first step. The wind farm still has major hurdles to clear, including passing an environmental assessment, working out interconnection arrangements with Nova Scotia Power and getting customers to sign up.

Roswall Development is the first company to take advantage of the “renewable to retail” program created seven years ago by a Liberal government under Stephen McNeil, who was the premier at the time.

Although the Liberals created the framework through the Electricity Act, regulations and other steps, the government did not say when sales could begin.

As a result, the licence issued by the board will include a condition that no sales can occur before the provincial cabinet sets a date.

Roscoe told Huddle that most people realized long ago that renewable energy was the future. Now, it’s quickly becoming the most cost-efficient option as well.

“We’ve crossed the threshold. While in the short term, with COVID and supply chain issues, renewables are a little unpredictable, so are fossil fuels – and to a greater extent. Renewables have a pretty long track record of cost reduction and fossil fuels are the inverse of that. Now that they’re crossing over … we don’t see it going back.”