A new provincial energy strategy to be released in 2016 could see P.E.I. move to embrace other forms of renewable energy beyond the wind power the province has become known for.
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According to the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, 26 per cent of the electricity used in the province is locally-generated wind energy.
"Right now with the demand we're kind of saturated with wind, and they can only put so much into the mix," said Kim Horrelt, the corporation's CEO.
'Solar's come a long way, and we're going to really investigate that.' — Kim Horrelt, PEI Energy Corporation CEO
So the province is considering other forms of green energy as it plots out its energy future.
"Certainly solar's come a long way, and we're going to really investigate that and I hope it really comes out in the strategy in (the) direction that we can go with solar," says Horrelt.
"Tidal is something we're looking at as well, I know Nova Scotia is doing a lot of work in tidal," she said.
"We have a preliminary study out just to see if it is a 'go' or 'no go' for us," Horrelt added. "It's very preliminary."
Researchers are looking at tidal currents and velocity in different spots around the Island, she said.
The P.E.I. government has issued a request for proposals, looking for someone to help it prepare an update to the provincial energy strategy issued in 2009. Horrelt said public consultations are planned for the spring of 2016, with the updated strategy ready for release in June.
New generating station on hold
Horrelt said a proposal from Maritime Electric to build a new diesel generating station in the province that would kick in during peak demand is on hold, pending the release of the new energy strategy.
"We need to look at how much on-Island generation we need and we're going to hold off right now, we're kind of just putting that in abeyance until we have more information," she said.
This fall the P.E.I. government passed legislation giving government the option to own any new generating facilities built in the province. During debate, members of the Official Opposition urged government to consider alternatives to another generating station powered by fossil fuels. Horrelt said that will happen as part of the process of developing the new strategy.
"We have to look at all the alternatives, we just can't go and build a new diesel generator without exhausting other alternatives."
Green leader looks for decentralized approach
Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker said he's expecting to see "an entirely new direction" in energy production in the province under the new strategy.
"The modern way of doing things … is to have a more disseminated, more diverse generation capacity so that individual houses and communities make their own energy, whether that be from wind or solar or some other form of renewable energy," said Bevan-Baker.
"And the distribution system is also much more diffuse and diverse, and that's a much more resilient system."
According to the request for proposals, the P.E.I. government is also looking for approaches to reduce the overall consumption of fossil fuels, which account for 76 per cent of all energy consumption in the province.
It's also looking for ways to increase energy efficiency and promote conservation.