Maritime Electric forced to fast-track $40M generator

Electricity-use has surged on P.E.I. in the last year, forcing Maritime Electric to fast-track plans to build another on-Island energy source.

Customers switching to electric heat

Electricity-use has surged on P.E.I. in the last year, forcing Maritime Electric to fast-track plans to build another on-Island energy source.

In previous years, electricity growth was usually around two per cent, but Maritime Electric CEO Fred O'Brien told CBC News lately in the last year it jumped as much as five per cent.

"What we're attributing it to, what we're seeing, is a shift from the use of oil for heating space to the use of electricity for heating, for space heating, so at homes and businesses," said O'Brien.

"That's probably the most significant issue we're facing."

The increased electricity use has Maritime Electric looking at building a fourth combustion turbine earlier than planned.

The utility already had plans in place to build a back-up power turbine in Charlottetown in 2020, but now it's considering building the $40-million project as early as 2016. That expense, including the borrowing costs, will be paid by ratepayers.

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