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The refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear plant is taking longer than expected. (CBC)

The P.E.I. cabinet has approved another $5.5 million dollars for Maritime Electric to cover off costs associated with buying replacement energy while the Point Lepreau plant continues to be refurbished.

That brings the province's total investment during refurbishment of the plant to $48.5 million.

The New Brunswick plant was supposed to re-open in September but that has now been pushed to December.

"That was by the very best estimate inside the New Brunswick government and inside Lepreau itself, so we had allocated so much per month through treasury board," said Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.

With the refurbishment requiring extra time, said Sheridan, Maritime Electric needs more money. The government is providing the money because it can borrow at a lower rate than the utility, and the cost is ultimately being carried by Maritime Electric customers.

Sheridan believes the province will ultimately be compensated for some of the costs by Atomic Energy of Canada. Concerns this money might not be returned were raised in New Brunswick last week after the utility board in that province released contracts from the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

Sheridan has read those documents and remains confident P.E.I. will at least get some of its money back.

"At what level, I can't say what that's going to be," he said.

"I've had talks with high-ranking officials inside the Government of Canada that assure me that we're going to see compensation. What they wanted to see first was that it was up and running and back at 100 per cent, and then we would start that negotiation."

Lepreau is expected to be operating by Dec. 1.