November 28, 2005

PEI-NB transmission upgrade project will help island take full advantage of wind energy

The federal and Prince Edward Island governments will work in partnership with Maritime Electric, a private-sector partner, on a project that will help PEI take full advantage of its exceptional wind power potential. The project, which will involve upgrading the electricity transmission system between PEI and New Brunswick, will also result in real and concrete reductions of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

PEI currently imports more than 90% of its electricity from New Brunswick. The project will augment the existing 200 megawatts (MW) of transmission capacity with a new 200 MW cable. The work will begin as soon as possible with completion expected by mid-2008.

This new cable will provide flexibility in the system capacity, enabling PEI to export wind power when its electrical demand is low and the wind is strong. Conversely, when the wind is not sufficient to meet PEI's demand, the province will be able to import power to meet domestic needs. A new cable will also provide security of electrical supply to PEI in the event that one cable should fail.

In embarking on the transmission system upgrade project, the province is committed to work with the private sector developers to establish at least 200 MW of wind power capacity by the year 2010. With peak electricity demand currently at about 210 MW, the result will be a reduction of at least 500,000 tonnes per year in GHG emissions. At the same time, sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels will be reduced by 5,700 tonnes each year.

PEI has set a target of obtaining 15% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010. This represents a requirement to install approximately 60 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity by that date.

"Maritime Electric has signed an MOU with the province of Prince Edward and will be responsible for the project management of the interconnection upgrade," said John Gaudet, the company's vice-president of corporate planning and energy supply. "In conjunction with the Province of PEI, the company has developed a plan to accommodate large scale wind development on PEI," he continued, adding, "We believe this to be a good example of a public private partnership."

The project, estimated to cost approximately $60 million, is the first project under the Partnership Fund, a major initiative of Canada's climate change plan. The federal share of the funding could be up to $30 million. Details of the cost-sharing arrangements will be worked out over the coming weeks among the partners.

The $25-million Partnership Fund, announced as part of the federal government's 2005 budget 2005, is expected to increase to $2 to $3 billion over the next few years as more projects are launched with the aim of reducing Canada's GHG emissions by 55 to 85 megatonnes by 2012.

Cost-shared investments could be allocated in three broad areas:

a) deploying strategic new technologies and energy-related infrastructure;

b) creating near-term emission reductions (i.e., in the 2008 to 2012 period); and

c) engaging Canadians in personal emissions reductions.

More information is available from Steve Szabo of Environment Canada's Atlantic region office, 902/426-7984, or Kim Griffin at Maritime Electric, 902/393-8787.

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