VIDEO: Maritime Electric exploring route for third cable

Ryan Ross
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Utility says work needs to begin now to meet Island's demands for power by 2016.

Preliminary work is underway this week on a new power cable to the mainland as Maritime Electric looks to deal with growing demand for electricity.

Despite uncertainty about funding for the new cable, Maritime Electric spokeswoman Griffin said it is critical infrastructure for P.E.I. and with growing demand for electricity, including as a heat source, it would irresponsible not to plan to have it in place for 2016.

“I think we can’t afford not to start it.”

Divers from Marenco Engineering left Borden-Carleton Monday morning to do preliminary work in the Northumberland Strait ahead of a surveying crew in June.

While they are in the strait, the divers will use a jet probe with a high-pressure pump that shoots water out of the end to push away anything on top of the bedrock.

That work will help determine a path for the survey crew.

Wally MacDonald, president of Marenco Engineering, said the preliminary work will look at the depth of bedrock on the strait’s floor.

“We’d like to find a route where we can bury the cable three or four feet and to do that you want to avoid bedrock.”

MacDonald, who has been involved in work on the existing cables over the years, said they are in good shape and the key to the type P.E.I. has been using is to make sure they don’t get overloaded.

“The cables have had a couple of problems but they’ve been isolated and we think there still may be a fair bit of life left in them.”

The two options for a new cable include running it undersea from Borden-Carleton to Cape Tormentine or through the Confederation Bridge.

P.E.I. gets power from the mainland through two 100-megawatt cables that run west of the Confederation Bridge from Murray Corner, N.B. to Fernwood.

Last year the provincial government issued a request for proposals to get updated costs for the entire project, which had previously been estimated to cost about $90 million.

The request for proposals sought estimates on a single cable with a 180-megawatt capacity or two separate cables.

There are three stages to the project that will see exploratory work done this spring and environmental impact assessment and permit applications completed in 2014-2015.

If approved, the construction and installation of a new line will be finished in 2016.

Griffin said it takes a lot of time to install a new cable so it’s important to get the preliminary work started now to determine what option the utility will recommend and Maritime Electric is trying to decide which option is best.

“The preliminary work stage is really, really important at this point and we’ll know by the end of the summer what we’re going to be recommending.”

The original cables were installed in 1977 and while problems with them have been rare, there was a major interruption in 1997 when a ship’s anchor severed one of them.

Maritime Electric also had to deal with insulating oil leaking out of one of the cables in 2012.

Who will pay for the new cable has been an ongoing issue for years with the provincial government saying it was waiting for the federal government to help share the costs.

It has become a more pressing concern in recent years, including this winter as Maritime Electric saw power interruptions to certain businesses to prevent a blackout across the province.

Griffin said Maritime Electric is partnering with the provincial government in the exploratory stage and she expected to have a better of the idea of the total cost for that stage later in the summer.

Organizations: Maritime Electric, Marenco Engineering

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Don MacEachern
    May 06, 2014 - 06:50

    I am not an engineer but it seems like a no brainer to use the bridge. It is dry and easy to get to for repairs.No divers needed to go down and repair. It would be much cheaper to instal.What am i missing.

  • don
    May 05, 2014 - 20:33

    lets see they get the money from ghiz and money from the feds, then they charge us for he cost of the cable. now lets see the money from ghiz is our money, the money from the feds is our money, then they charge us for the cable so they are getting our money 3 ways. talk about a scam and the governments agree to it.

  • Sick of the runaround
    May 05, 2014 - 19:20

    Hey Maritime Electric, it's okay to plan for a new cable but don't forget that the existing cable that runs from Murray Corner to PEI leaked oil containing PCBs into the soil about 100 feet from the high tide mark. It is still leaking onto the beach and the exuding oil and the smell is unacceptable. It's been 2 years. Clean up your mess before you start something new.

  • sammy
    May 05, 2014 - 14:48

    Has everyone forgot about the wind power that is being generated on PEI. I know for a fact that there was enough being generated 4 years ago to run the whole island. It has been tested may times by Maritime Electric. So why can't we tap into this instead of constructing a new (and very expensive) cable? Maritime Electric needs some competition to bring things into line. It happened to Island Tel/Bell Aliant. Before competition Bell Aliant got everything they asked for from the PUC/CRTC as did Maritime Electric. Once competition reared its head Bell Aliant had to sharpen their pencil.and work for their money... not just ask for it year after year. Sammy out..

  • Somebody
    May 05, 2014 - 10:14

    I think they should wait until after the next election before making any decisions. If Ghiz gets in again there won't be any need for a new cable as the exodus from the Island continues.

    May 05, 2014 - 09:06

    It could easily go through the bridge at far less expense but as in the past the taxpayer will probably pay for the cable and MARITIME ELECTRIC WILL GET ALL THE PROFITS. We are so used to getting scammed buy corporations that it has become common on PEI.

    • how it is...
      May 05, 2014 - 12:36

      Socializing costs and privatizing profits. Just another snakey corporation providing what they know is a necessary resource and leveraging that against the Govt. and taxpayer.

  • Why
    May 05, 2014 - 07:45

    Why wouldn't they run it through the Bridge ? This would definitely be cheaper as the cable wouldn't need to be as expensive as a under water one & could be repaired a lot cheaper if need be . Besides us Islanders will be taking over ownership of this bridge when soon when the present owners have milked it dry .

    • John
      May 05, 2014 - 10:22

      Have you given any thought to the possibility of a short in the electrical cable? The bridge on the inside is held together by steel cables. If a short was to burn thru one of those cables at least four sections of the bridge would collapse.

    • Cringe
      May 05, 2014 - 11:33

      As a civil engineer, I just cringed at this comment

    • Craig
      May 05, 2014 - 19:36

      Actually they are thinking about putting cable on the outside of bridge