P.E.I.'s main electrical utility will begin exploration work Monday determining the preferred route for a new electrical cable to the mainland.

Discussion of a new cable dates back to 2005. The current cables were installed in the late 1970s and are nearing the end of their lives.

There is no agreement in place for the project, but Maritime Electric will have divers in the water Monday to look for the best undersea route. Running the cable through Confederation Bridge is also an option being discussed.

"We're hoping to have our preferred route selected by the summer," said spokeswoman Kim Griffin.

"We'll decide, in terms of our application, whether we'll be suggesting that we do an underwater sea cable or along the Confederation Bridge."

The underwater route would be east of the bridge, some distance from the two cables currently supplying power to the province. Maritime Electric says that is partially for safety and security reasons.

Funding for the initial exploration part of the project is coming from the provincial government.

Maritime Electric hopes to have the plan ready for an environmental impact study in the fall, and construction underway by 2016.