Trout River welding

Energy use at Trout River Industries has been growing. (CBC)

With electricity costs rising steadily, some businesses on P.E.I. have taken charge of their own power, installing wind turbines on their property.

Trout River Industries has for the last decade been manufacturing live bottom trailers in Coleman, near Summerside. It's a technology that allows truck operators to load and unload material much more easily than with a conventional dump truck. The company has been growing steadily, and now has 41 employees.

Owner Harvey Stewart found his payroll wasn't the only expense that was growing. His electricity bill was on the rise as well, and it reached the point where he felt he could do better off the grid. Two 50-megawatt turbines now power his entire plant.

"I just see it as a good fit for P.E.I., especially when you can buy the stuff here in P.E.I. Local guys did it," Stewart told CBC News Thursday.

The turbines, built by Entegrity Wind Systems of Charlottetown, cost Stewart about $300,000, but on the plus side the operating costs are very low. The province also helped out with a low-interest loan program for businesses investing in alternative energy.

"I think it's a great investment. The more we can get off oil, the more we can produce our power locally, the better we are off," said Energy Minister Richard Brown.


Ian Simmons, owner of Kool Breeze Farms in Summerside, is looking forward to seeing what his savings are. ((CBC))

Trout River is just one of a growing number of P.E.I. companies turning to wind power.

Kool Breeze Farms in Summerside has had its $200,000 turbine working since November.

"We have an egg laying operation here, and we also have a garden centre," said owner Ian Simmons.

"The goal is to utilize all our electrical needs from before, from the wind."

Simmons said it is still too early to know what the return on investment on the turbine will be.

"Until we get another 10 months under our belts, that will be the first year," he said.

"Then, of course, we'll have to benchmark it with the second year."

But Simmons believes it will save him money eventually.

The province is looking to utilize wind turbines in other areas, Including potato storage warehouses and hockey rinks.

Stewart said as his business grows he might consider a third turbine, but he will be watching the savings from the first two turbines before he makes a decision on another.