August 12, 2010
Prince Edward Island

P.E.I. wind projects just hot air: opposition

CBC News, 12 August 2010

Plans for major renewable energy development under the current P.E.I. government have gone from 500 megawatts, to 130, to 30, to six, charges Opposition leader Jim Bagnall.

Energy Minister Richard Brown responded that the 500-megawatt plan is still in place, but it requires waiting for better economic conditions.

Last week Maritime Electric, the province’s main utility, announced tenders for 130 megawatts of renewal energy had returned proposals for just 30 megawatts of wind power. Bagnall said of that 30, it is his understanding most will come from an existing wind farm, the Suez installation in West Prince.

“What we have is maybe six megawatts of energy that this government is going to bring since they’ve been elected,” said Bagnall.

“It’s very disheartening that government would mislead Islanders to the extent that they were going to put a major wind project here in the province, and actually come up with six megawatts.”

Maritime Electric officials won’t comment on the status of the projects, saying they’re still in negotiations. Brown said he couldn’t comment on it either.

“All that’s up to Maritime Electric, and they haven’t disclosed that to us yet,” he said.

“But I must say any contract that’s going to be signed will have to meet the standards of the power act, which is best price for Islanders.”

The negotiations for new renewable energy projects shouldn’t be left up to Maritime Electric, said Bagnall, and the province is now dealing with a lost opportunity.

“No job creation, no development for the construction industry, no nothing for Islanders,” he said.

But Brown said it is not lost, just delayed.

“Our plan is still in place; 500 megawatts is still in place,” he said.

“If any of the developers see a change of economic times and they want to come back to the province of P.E.I. and go with 100 megawatts, the original six [companies that submitted proposals], they’re welcome at any time.”

Tied up in the wind power proposal are efforts by the P.E.I. government to convince Ottawa to share the cost of a new power cable to the mainland to export wind power produced on the Island. With few new wind farms to show, the discussion is going to get that much harder.

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