Electricity in Prince Edward Island

Residents of Prince Edward Island pay the highest electricity rates in Canada, largely because the province imports about 85 per cent of its power.
Electricity rates in Prince Edward Island are the highest in Canada. The province imports about 85 per cent of its power through New Brunswick. (iStock)

Prince Edward Island

Avg. price: 16.1¢/kWh (highest among provinces)

2010 capacity: 328 MW

2020 forecast capacity: 426 MW

Peak use (2009): 205 MW

GHG intensity rank: 5th-highest 

GHG emissions goal: 10% below 1990 levels by 2020

Green targets: 30% power from renewables by 2016

In theory, P.E.I. has the potential to meet its own electricity needs. But half of its generating mix at present is from wind, which can't be relied on as a constant source of power, while the rest is expensive and comes from polluting oil and diesel plants. So the Island imports about 85 per cent of its electricity through New Brunswick, with about a third of that normally contracted from NB Power's Point Lepreau nuclear station and Dalhousie oil-fired plant. However, Point Lepreau has been offline for refurbishments since 2008, forcing Maritime Electric, the private provincial utility, to acquire most of its electrons on the expensive open market. The result has been steep price hikes for P.E.I. customers of about 25 per cent in the last three years. They pay the highest average energy rate, 16 cents per kilowatt-hour, of all the provinces — well above the national average of 10.1¢/kWh.

Do you want to know how much you'll be paying for electricity in 2020? Try the provincial cost calculator.

The provincial government waded in last fall with a new five-year pact with Maritime Electric that guarantees a 14 per cent rate cut starting March 1, followed by a two-year freeze. Premier Robert Ghiz's Liberal government is effectively subsidizing the deal by taking on some of Maritime Electric's debt. The province has also scaled back its ambitious plans for additional wind power from a 500-MW target unveiled three years ago, to 130 MW hoped for in spring 2010, to just 40 MW of utility-owned turbines under the P.E.I. Energy Accord.