PEI

P.E.I.'s underwater electric cable project officially plugged in

It's taken more than a year to complete — with delays along the way — but the project to install two new underwater cables across the Northumberland Strait has been completed and was officially launched Tuesday.

New underwater cables supply about 75% of the Island's electricity

The project is comprised of two 180-megawatt underwater cables connecting PEI to New Brunswick. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

It's taken more than a year to complete — with delays along the way — but the project to install two new underwater cables across the Northumberland Strait is complete and was officially launched Tuesday.

The installation of two new underwater electric cables between P.E.I. and New Brunswick is the largest infrastructure project P.E.I. has undertaken since the construction of the Confederation Bridge, officials said. 

"That's really what we're marking here is a milestone — likely one that very few of us will take part in again in our lifetimes in terms of the capacity that this gives us to transmit and access... energy," said P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan. 

"We have established an energy system for Prince Edward Island that is reliable, affordable and increasingly renewable," he added. 

Cables officially plugged in

On Tuesday at a ceremony in Borden-Carleton, Maritime Electric handed over ownership of the cables to the province and the underwater cables were officially plugged in.

At a media conference Tuesday, Maritime Electric CEO John Gaudet and P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan ask for the two new underwater electric cables to be energized. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Our role was that of construction agent," explained Maritime Electric CEO John Gaudet. "Sounds simple, but I can assure you it wasn't. Our role included the engineering, the design and the procurement, obtaining the regulatory approvals in P.E.I. and in New Brunwick."

The project comprises two 180-megawatt underwater cables that connect Prince Edward Island to mainland New Brunswick.

The underwater project spans 17 kilometres between Cape Tormentine, N.B. and Borden-Carleton, P.E.I. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

It spans 17 kilometres from Cape Tormentine, N.B., to Borden-Carleton, P.E.I.

The new cables replace 40-year-old cables that had had a capacity of 200 megawatts of energy.

'Lower energy costs'

"This new electricity connection will lower energy costs for residents and businesses, create jobs, and grow our economy so that we can continue to increase prosperity for all Islanders," said MacLauchlan.

'It's been a project of great magnitude with some ripples along the way,' says Paula Biggar, P.E.I.'s Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The underwater cables will increase the province's total electric power capacity to 560 megawatts and will supply about 75 per cent of the Island's electricity.

"Our daily capacity right now is up to 260, and we expect that to go up over the next five to 10 years, so this is going to give P.E.I. more capacity, security of electricity supply, but also an opportunity for more green export of our power," said Paula Biggar, P.E.I.'s Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

'Some ripples along the way'

The new system took more than a year to complete and experienced some delays, but it was completed on time and on budget, officials said.

The province's total electric capacity has now increased to 560 megawatts. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"It's been a project of great magnitude with some ripples along the way and getting through those says a lot about all of our partnerships that we've had working together with community, with industries," said Biggar.

The cost of the $142.5 million project was shared by federal and provincial governments

The federal government contributed $68.9 million to the project under the Green Infrastructure Fund and the P.E.I. government contributed $73.6 million.

With files from Tom Steepe

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