By John te Raa
(Re: Article Sept. 7, 2013: Province seeks proposals for third power cable)
As a former employee of the P.E.I. Energy Corporation I wish to comment on the corporation’s plan for a third power cable in the Northumberland Strait.
I have a lot of questions about the sizing and location of the planned third cable.
In 1977 two 100 MW cables were installed. At that time the load on P.E.I. was a little over 100 MW. Installing two 100 MW cables provided redundancy and allowed for future load growth.
Currently the load on P.E.I. is 240 MW. The peak load is growing rapidly in recent years due to the growth of residential electric heating. Peak load used to occur the week before Christmas. Peak load has now shifted to the coldest day in January due to electric heating requirements. The peak load will only increase.
This begs the question, why is the Energy Corporation planning for a new single cable of only 180 MW?
The existing two 100 MW cables are 36 years old and have reached the end of their estimated service life according to the Energy Corporation.
Good planning would call for new cable capacity well in excess of 240 MW. Using 1977 criteria would call for 400 MW plus capacity to serve Islanders for the next 40 years.
Another question is the location of the new cable.
In December 2012 WKM Energy Consultants Inc. prepared a report for the Nova Scotia government on the potential to purchase power from Hydro Quebec as an alternative to participating in the Muskrat Falls Power project. This report clearly states that no reliable power is available for Nova Scotia from Quebec because of transmission limitations in the Moncton area from the Memramcook terminal in New Brunswick. The report clearly states that P.E.I. is only guaranteed 80 MW to the 200 MW Northumberland cable.
Why is the Energy Corporation installing 180 MW of new capacity into a New Brunswick terminal that will only guarantee 80 MW of capacity? Where is the planning?
WKM Energy Consultants Inc. is the same consultant the Energy Corporation uses.
Now that the government has taken over all planning for new cable capacity, there is no longer an opportunity for public scrutiny through the IRAC hearing process.
If the Energy Corporation goes ahead with only 180 MW into the Memramcook terminal that guarantees all old Maritime Electric generating capacity on P.E.I. has to be maintained. In the 1980s there was a big debate before IRAC whether or not Maritime Electric should spend millions to do a 20-year life extension on the old equipment. It is now 25 years later, how many more millions will have to be spent to extend the old plant for another 20 years?
Currently millions are spent on the operations side just to keep the plant available every year.
Where is the long-term plan for P.E.I.’s total electric capacity requirements?
John te Raa,