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Maritime Electric chief executive Fred O'Brien says the province needs on-Island power generation. ((CBC))

The Island’s energy minister is questioning why the province’s power company wants to build a $40 million combustion turbine, a cost that would be downloaded onto ratepayers.

Energy Minister Wes Sheridan says Maritime Electric doesn’t need to generate electricity on Prince Edward Island and he is instead advocating for a third power cable from the mainland.

But electricity consumption is increasing, from big box stores to space heaters in apartments.

Most of P.E.I.’s electricity comes from two underwater power cables. Even if a third cable comes online, Maritime Electric said it needs to boost power generation on the Island to ensure adequate supply and to deal with emergencies.

"Not supplying electricity is not an option," Maritime Electric chief executive Fred O’Brien said. "We need to have the pieces in place so that we could not only supply on a regular basis, but survive the loss of the single largest supply source."

Maritime Electric wants to decommission its old generating plant and buy another turbine. It says a decision on whether to do that should be made in the next three to five years.

But Sheridan says on-Island generation is not the way to go.

"I don’t believe it’s necessary," he said. "I need to be shown, convinced, that is the case. I believe that better connectivity to the mainland is a better option."

The province is negotiating with Ottawa on a cost sharing agreement to bring a third cable to P.E.I. The total cost of that project would be $80 million to $90 million.