HALIFAX - A national lobby group for wind energy is applauding Nova Scotia's energy regulator for setting rates the province's utility must pay small wind farms operated by community groups.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association says the feed-in tariffs set by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will make the province a leader in small wind energy developments.

Spokeswoman Emilie Moorhouse says her group's analysis of the rates indicate that community groups such as farming co-operatives will be able to make a small profit by investing in the windmills.

Nova Scotia Power would purchase the wind-generated electricity and use it on its transmission lines.

In a decision released Monday, the review board set a price of 45.2 cents per kilowatt hour for small wind turbines with a capacity of 50 kilowatts or less -- about enough to provide electricity to five homes.

Moorhouse says the decision sets a limit on the total amount of wind energy Nova Scotia Power would buy, but she says the small projects by farms, small businesses and co-operatives will likely raise public awareness of the value of wind.