Atlantic energy ministers heralded a new era of co-operation during a meeting in Halifax today, Feb. 22. The ministers agreed to identify priority energy opportunities and find ways to maximize benefits for the region. “There was a strong mood of co-operation,” said Energy Minister Charlie Parker. “We received updates on progress made to date and directed our officials to accelerate efforts on energy co-operation and understanding the opportunities that are critical to the energy futures all of us are planning. “It is important for us to discuss the regional benefits of energy opportunities such as the development of the Muskrat Falls phase of the Lower Churchill Project. Nova Scotia recognizes the potential for us in this development and we are pleased to be partners with Newfoundland and Labrador.” This was the first meeting of Atlantic energy ministers since the Council of Atlantic Premiers made a commitment in November to work on finding common ground. Ministers agreed they are better off working together on initiatives identified through the Atlantic Energy Gateway (AEG) Initiative, on a National Energy Strategy framework and energy efficiency initiatives. The ministers also discussed the regional benefit and opportunities associated with the development of the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. “The meetings provided the opportunity for constructive discussion on a variety of regional opportunities and energy priorities, which in turn will strengthen the Atlantic Canadian energy market,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner. “I am pleased with the approach to work together, discuss issues, and exchange ideas to benefit a strong, united region. I was particularly pleased to discuss the development of Muskrat Falls, which will provide tremendous benefit for the region and indeed the country, and look forward to a continued partnership in support of the development.” The ministers agreed to share information on energy efficiency programming and to help people reduce their energy consumption. The provinces are also exploring harmonizing standards, policy and planning initiatives, programs and building codes. “As this was the first Atlantic Energy Ministers’ meeting in sometime, it was a great opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities we see in our respective provinces and how by working together, we can derive mutual benefits,” said New Brunswick Minister of Energy and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Craig Leonard. “We were able to discuss a wide range of issues, such as efficiency and generation from a regional perspective, and come to understandings on where we can work together. I see this meeting as a starting point for a more collaborative approach to dealing with the issues we all face.” “The people of Atlantic Canada will benefit from regional co-operation on energy issues,” said Prince Edward Island Minister of Environment, Energy and Forestry Richard Brown. “I am pleased with this spirit of regional co-operation among the provinces. Working together we can strengthen the energy sector, generate more economic activity, create more jobs and lower energy costs across the region.” To maximize the opportunities for collaboration on research and development and strengthened electricity transmission, the ministers want to complete work, in partnership with the federal government, on AEG Initiatives as quickly as possible. Those results will be an important part of provincial and national energy policies and planning. The ministers say work will also continue on what the Atlantic region wants in a National Energy Strategy framework. Those concerns will be raised during the next federal-provincial-territorial energy ministers’ meeting in Alberta in July.