They may not have their own Marvel Comic series, but they delivered more than a few economic development promotional “Kapows!”and “Shazams!” among an admiring audience when they descended on the province’s capital city last month. At least that’s what I heard from some inside observers who saw them in action, so I caught up with the local tidal energy promotion team at a debriefing meeting at Digby Town hall recently, got some of the details and persuaded this “perpetual motion” squad to pause just long enough for a group photo.
(Photo L-r; Terry Thibodeau, Mike Adam (Bay Ferries), Ben Cleveland, Linda Gregory, Jimmy MacAlpine and Jeff Sunderland)
The members of “Team Tidal Digby” put on a “full court press” to showcase the potential of the Port of Digby at the recent Nova Scotia Tidal Symposium in Halifax, entitled “Getting Power to Market”. And tidal energy and renewable energy attendees from around the world apparently responded with enthusiastic and appreciative interest.
The team is comprised of representatives from the Annapolis Digby Economic development Agency (ADEDA), the Port of Digby, The Town of Digby and the Municipality of the District of Digby – supported by marine and tidal energy industry partners. Their highly visible participation drew the interest of not only the symposium participants, but the regional media as well.
In an interview with the Digby Courier’s Jonathon Riley when he returned home, Digby Mayor Ben Cleveland said that they went to the conference to tell industry and government that Digby is the port of choice to service tidal projects planned for the Bay of Fundy and reported that “The good news is before I could say anything, industry reps were telling me that Digby makes sense to them”.
The focus of the initiative was an information reception hosted by the team members, and sponsored by a wide group of local, regional and international supporters, with the invitation to “learn why Digby is positioned to be the Port of Choice for upcoming tidal developers”, and offering the opportunity to network with other supply chain providers. And getting to be part of that supply chain is a critical objective for the Port of Digby. As Jean-Francois Ally, a project manager with Alstom Hydro of France which has offices and projects underway in about 100 countries and is a major player in the energy sector, said in an interview with the Halifax Chronicle Herald, "With ocean energy, we will be looking for new suppliers (and) we will be interested in developing long-term relationships," adding "Once you get into our supply chain, you can provide for Alstom projects all over the world."
And Chris Bernardi, with Lockheed Martin Corp., which partnered with the Digby team as one of the information reception sponsors, said, "The Bay of Fundy is a launch pad for global opportunities for all of us here”.
Premier Dexter and Symposium participants
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter took an active part in the Symposium and underlined the scope of the opportunity saying that, “Experts estimate that a potential of up to 2,500 megawatts can be safely extracted from the Bay of Fundy “, and that “It’s sheer size, combined with the bay’s ideal location next to existing transmission infrastructure, is increasing the world’s best technologies and increasing investment in our province”.
OK, there’s no doubt that the prospect of the 20 pounds of savoury Digby scallops being offered at the Digby reception probably helped to boost what turned out to be large attendance; but there’s no denying the turnout was a resounding success.
“We had a good revolving crowd of 70, 80 people all the time,” said Digby Mayor Cleveland. And the size of the Digby event obviously drew envious attention from other promoters; “The organizers from the other wine and cheese snuck in at one point because they wanted to talk to some people, too”, Cleveland reported.
ADEDA’s Terry Thibodeau pitches the Digby advantage
ADEDA’s Terry Thibodeau, along with other members of the team, took the opportunity to tirelessly “work the room” for the entire five hours of the evening reception, explaining the economic and strategic advantages of the Digby Annapolis area to the international as well as regional tidal energy proponents.
“I think my voice was getting a little raspy by the end of the evening”, Thibodeau chuckled, ‘But the opportunity to make the presentations and discuss the opportunities that the port of Digby offers to the global tidal energy industry to literally scores of interested delegates was incredibly rewarding”.
Thibodeau also added that the conversations weren’t just limited to the tidal power scene, saying that “There was active interest in a full range of economic opportunities that the Annapolis Digby area could offer”.
The evening was so busy in fact that Jeff Sunderland, Port Manager with the Digby Harbour Port Association, told the Courier that he personally never got a chance to enjoy any of the scallops, but that was fine with him because he felt that the team effort exceeded their expectations.
“This was the largest gathering to date of tidal energy players,” he said, and positively pointed out that developers also told him and the other delegates that they would like to see a service port on the Bay of Fundy.
And Sunderland in turn hammered home the Digby advantages, stressing to the delegates that “We’re the closest to the tidal sites but we’ve also got lots of land for building on, we’re near the highway, near the ferry, we have an airport and our work force has the marine skill sets they’ll be looking for.”
The Municipal members of the team, which also included Digby Municipality Warden Linda Gregory and Deputy Warden Jimmy MacAlpine as well as mayor Cleveland, also had a chance to speak the mayors of the towns of Parrsboro and Hantsport, the other two Nova Scotia communities who are actively seeking a role in supporting Fundy tidal development. They agreed to cooperatively speak to the provincial government with one voice.
“Each community has demonstrated that they are ready and willing to support these tidal projects,” said Cleveland. It’s a smart approach for our area government, industry and economic development leaders to work collaboratively with their partner rural communities along the Bay of Fundy to pursue the economic potential that the tidal power energy options present, because there’s surely enough benefits for all of us.
And it’s especially heartening to see that they’re taking a “team” approach to making sure that the Annapolis Digby area gets front and centre early and proactively as plans are being made. It’s what the international industry planners love to see – and what we’ve come to expect from this committed and farsighted group.
Up, up and away “Team Tidal”!
(Recipients are welcome to republish this story or forward it to anyone who may be interested in this information. Credit to be given to the Annapolis Digby Economic Development Agency (ADEDA) www.annapolisdigby.com.