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Energy accord confirms major wind cutback

A new energy plan released by the P.E.I. government Tuesday confirms the province is seriously scaling back on its plans to develop wind power.

Under the P.E.I. Energy Accord, the government announced it will add 30 megawatts of publicly-owned wind power on P.E.I. by 2012, along with 10 more megawatts at the Wind Institute in North Cape.

That 40 megawatts is a long way from the 130 the province was looking for last spring when it put out a request for proposals, and even further from a 500 megawatt plan unveiled two years ago. The RFP in the spring was meant to be the first major step in that larger plan, but Maritime Electric rejected the six bids, saying the costs were too high.

“Mr. Ghiz has announced a 10-point plan which has failed,” said PC energy critic Mike Currie.

“I just think it’s another one of his glossy documents that he puts out and says, ‘It will work someday.’ But it’s not working.”

Curry noted the previous Tory government built two wind farms, and said they are still generating more than $3-million in profit a year for Island taxpayers.

Premier Robert Ghiz is blaming the recession for the scaling back of his government’s plans.

“The price of oil dropped quite a bit, along with the price of natural gas, so therefore it made wind a little less attractive,” said Ghiz.

“That 10-point plan is still there and we’re hoping to go ahead with it.”

A further barrier to the Ghiz plan is getting the power generated off the Island. It would require a third power cable across the Northumberland Strait at a cost of about $90 million, and the province would need Ottawa to help pay for it.

In January Gail Shea, P.E.I.’s representative in the federal cabinet, said she would support the cable as an infrastructure project, but the money never came through.