© Submitted photo
Example of underwater transmission cable which runs between P.E.I. and N.B.
P.E.I. is moving a step closer to getting a third power cable to the mainland after a request for proposals went out this week to get updated costs for the project.
Mark Victor, the P.E.I. Energy Corporation’s special projects coordinator, said the goal is to fine-tune some of the estimates the corporation has received in the past about the project.
“We’re really just taking it to another level of detail, I guess you could say.”
There are two 100-megawatt power cables in the Northumberland Strait that have been serving P.E.I. for 36 years and while they are still in operation, they have reached their estimated service life.
Estimates for adding a third cable to meet the Island’s increasing demand and lessen the reliance on the two existing cables have been pegged at around $90 million.
It’s an issue that has been discussed for several years with the provincial government saying the money wasn’t there for the project that would be cost shared with Ottawa.
With the latest request for proposals, the province is looking for estimates on a single cable with about a 180-megawatt capacity or two separate cables.
Victor said there are some advantages to installing two cables, including having the load split if something goes wrong.
“It’s really for backup,” he said.
The current cables have served the province well for most of their lives with only one major interruption in 1997 when a ship’s anchor severed one of them.
More recently Maritime Electric had to deal with insulating oil leaking out of one of the cables last year, which cost the company millions of dollars to repair.
Since then, Energy Minister Wes Sheridan has said getting a third cable has become the province’s top infrastructure priority.
The current cables run from Murray Corner, N.B. to Fernwood, P.E.I., but a new cable would go closer to the Confederation Bridge or possibly on it, although Victor said discussions are still underway about the possibility of using the bridge.
Victor said the schedule for the request for proposals will get a detailed report finished by the end of November with a goal of having everything ready to apply for the next round of federal infrastructure funding in April.
Once the funding is in place it will still be at least a few years before the new cable is in place, Victor said.
“Realistically I think you’re probably talking the earliest would sort of be late 2016.”