Group hopes to help Parrsboro, Digby forge tidal power alliances

Heather Spidell

Heather Spidell

Heather Spidell says she’s hoping her group, Rural Energy, can help communities on the Bay of Fundy take full advantage of tidal power.

Spidell, who grew up in Parrsboro and who owns Sweet Brier Boutique, founded Rural Energy last fall with her friend, Cindy James, who is from Digby.

“We are very committed to seeing our hometowns be successful, both economically and socially,” Spidell said during a phone interview on Friday. “We’re interested in helping our hometowns realize the full benefit of tidal power…That’s something that both Digby and Parrsboro have in common and we were starting to see a gap,” she said.

She added that gap is between the potential for tidal power and the lack of community awareness and engagement in that potential.

“Community involvement is really the underpinning of Rural Energy. We’re really passionate about transparency, open communications and having the community involved and aware of what this could mean for them.”

Tidal Communities Alliance

At its meeting last week, Parrsboro Town Council decided to forward a proposed agreement for tidal communities to work together to the Cumberland Energy Authority, a body that includes Mayor Lois Smith, Councillor David Harrison and Town Clerk Ray Hickey as members. The tentative agreement, or memorandum of understanding, was reached by the leaders of coastal communities last fall.

“We’re really impressed that the communities want to come together and collaborate,” Spidell said. She added that Rural Energy is hoping to facilitate discussions among the communities about how they could take steps to promote greater awareness of tidal power both within their communities and outside of Nova Scotia.

She emphasized that Rural Energy is not being paid at the moment and that its efforts are part of its own independent, community development initiative.

European trip

Spidell said she and James will be travelling at their own expense to Europe next month where they’ll spend three weeks meeting with tidal companies, academics, researchers, fisheries organizations, students and members of communities. They hope to attract interest in tidal developments in Nova Scotia as well as to learn how Europeans have benefitted from their own projects.

Spidell also plans to be at Parrsboro Regional High School tomorrow and Tuesday to tell students about her European trip and the benefits of tidal power.

“They’re getting ready to think about careers,” she said, “and it’s important that they know about some of the potential opportunities that exist.”

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