Order new power cable by this fall, says Maritime Electric president

Order for a new power cable from P.E.I. to the mainland needs to be done soon, but who will pay

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on June 13, 2014

Maritime Electric

The order for a new power cable to the mainland needs to be done by the fall, says a Maritime Electric spokesman, but who will pay for it is still up in the air.

Fred O’Brien, Maritime Electric’s president, said the company supports the province’s efforts to get federal money for the cable, but leaves any decisions about other funding measures to the P.E.I. government.

“We’re supporting them in any way we can,” he said.

O’Brien was at a Fortis shareholders meeting in Charlottetown Thursday where he provided updates on the company, along with an overview of what happened with Maritime Electric over the last year and challenges faced due to increased power consumption.

Fortis owns Maritime Electric.

In May, Maritime Electric started preliminary work on a new cable to the mainland as it moves to meet growing demand for electricity in P.E.I.

There are two cables running between P.E.I. and New Brunswick and the utility expects to need a third by 2016.

Talks are underway between the province and the federal government about funding for the cable, which has seen its price tag increase over the years.

O’Brien said the cable’s final cost has yet to be determined, but a range of $100 million to $150 million has been estimated.

“That’s fair at this point,” he said.

A new cable is needed thanks to the increased power use, in large part because of more customers using heat pumps in their homes.

O’Brien said the provincial government will deal with financing the cable for any amount that doesn’t come from the federal government.

How much any financing will impact electricity rates for Islanders won’t be known until Maritime Electric knows how the cable will be paid for, O’Brien said.

“There will be some impact on rates once it’s in place.”

O’Brien said the company would like to place a cable order by the fall because getting it is the part of the project that will take the most time.

“Right now our focus remains on trying to secure support from infrastructure funding so we haven’t pursued any alternatives at this point as to what would happen.”