Premier Robert Ghiz is once again promising to increase wind production on P.E.I., this time by building a new provincially owned wind farm.
The Liberals laid out their plan for environment and water protection during an election news conference in Covehead Monday.
As part of that policy announcement, Ghiz promised to bring the province’s electricity requirement for wind power to 32 per cent.
P.E.I.’s current wind turbines provide a little over 20 per cent of the province’s energy needs.
This wind initiative was announced last year as part of the province’s $60 million energy accord.
But to achieve it, Ghiz told reporters Monday he is planning to build a new provincially owned wind farm.
“We don’t want Islanders’ electricity rates going up, we want to keep them down or make them go even lower so we’re looking at ways to keep electricity costs as low as possible,” Ghiz said.
This plan replaces a 500-megawatt wind plan the Ghiz government announced in 2008. It promised to boost wind production to 30 per cent of the province’s electricity consumption.
But it required new wind turbines to be built and operated by the private sector, and government couldn’t get companies interested in the project to offer an affordable energy price to Islanders. As a result, that plan never materialized.
“We went out to tender in the open market, but unfortunately the prices that came back were not prices that were going to be competitive with the prices we supply from a government perspective,” Ghiz told reporters Monday.
That’s why the province will now build and operate its own new wind turbines.
It would end up a cost-neutral project that would only require the province to borrow money from its energy corporation for up front costs, Ghiz said.
He did not have the exact cost amount, but because energy generated will be automatically sold to Maritime Electric, the project is guaranteed to make enough to pay for itself, Ghiz said.
“Government may even make a couple of dollars on it.”
The location of the new wind farm has not yet been determined. The project will go out to tender sometime in the near future.
It will hopefully be up and running in two years, he added.
Ghiz also promised help for watershed management during the news conference Monday.
He pledged $4 million for water quality improvements and watershed groups. He also restated his commitment to one-third of the cost to update Charlottetown’s sewage treatment plant and to work with the federal government and the city to achieve the full amount needed.
Additionally, Ghiz pledged $6 million for energy efficiency measures, including rebates for LED lights and enhanced electricity reduction programs for seniors and those living in apartments.
But PC candidate Martie Murphy says these measures don’t go far enough.
Murphy raised eyebrows Monday by attending the Liberal news conference, which was held in her riding of York-Oyster Bed.
This unusual move was an effort to make sure the Liberals knew she was there to look after the interests of her district, she said in a news release.
“I wanted to look Robert Ghiz in the eye so that he knew that he was not going to get away with anything when he comes in to the York-Oyster Bed district,” she stated.
Murphy expressed disappointment in the Liberal’s environment promises.
“All the promises they made have already been announced and it means nothing for the Friends of the Covehead and Brackley Watershed Group, which is in my district.”
Murphy went on to indicate she was extremely disappointed the Liberals took no stand on fracking.
On Friday, PC Leader Olive Crane promised to ban hydro-fracking on P.E.I.
“We have a fragile water system in this province and unless we prohibit this practice outright … there is no way that we can maintain the purity of our water,” Murphy said.
Ghiz and Murphy did not speak to each other at the news conference.
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