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Bay of Fundy tidal turbine now powering 500 Nova Scotia homes

WATCH ABOVE: For the first time, a tidal turbine has been successfully connected to the power grid in Nova Scotia and is now providing energy to hundreds of homes. Global's Natasha Pace reports.

Nova Scotia is now officially generating tidal energy after the first tidal turbine in North America was successfully connected to the power grid Tuesday.

The 1,000-tonne turbine, which is part of the Cape Sharp Tidal project to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy, is now powering 500 homes in Nova Scotia.

“We are ushering a new era in marine renewable energy and taking an unprecedented step toward a lower carbon future,” Energy Minister Michel Samson said.

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READ MORE: Giant tidal turbine now in position on Bay of Fundy seabed

Samson says tidal energy is a once in a lifetime opportunity to help reduce our carbon footprint.

“We are doing more than any other province in Canada to reduce our national greenhouse emissions,” he said. “Today, Nova Scotia is the national, provincial leader in greenhouse gas reduction.”

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The total cost for the Cape Sharp Tidal project is $30 million.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia to introduce cap-and-trade in 2018

Officials say the project not only provides clean energy, but also an economic boost to the province.

“Seventy per cent of the project costs have been spent right here in Nova Scotia,” said Emera Chief Corporate Development Officer Nancy Tower. “Three hundred Nova Scotian companies are involved in the supply chain so far.”

There was concern from local fishermen that the massive turbines could have a negative impact on fish.

READ MORE: Bay of Fundy fishermen lose bid to halt tidal power plan pending judicial review

Emera, the parent company of Nova Scotia Power, says they are working to create energy while protecting marine life.

“Would we like to put more turbines in the Bay one day? Yes, we would, but not at the expense of things that matter to coastal communities or to the livelihoods that depends on them,” Tower said.

The tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia has the potential to create up to 22,000 jobs and contribute as much $1.7 billion to the economy, according to Samson.

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Nova Scotia has been working for years to try and harness the power of the Bay of Fundy and create electricity.

“If you go back decades in the communities around here, in coffee shops, people have been talking about the development of tidal power and when’s it going to happen, is it ever gonna happen? Well today, it’s happening so it’s extremely exciting for us,” said Ray Hickey of the Cumberland Energy Authority.

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The second tidal turbine is scheduled to be deployed next year.

Once it’s operational, Cape Sharp Tidal will be one of the largest generating arrays in the world.

The completed four-megawatt project will replace the need to burn 2,000 tonnes of coal, and eliminate 6,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road each year.