PEI

Electrical grid deal could bring renewable energy opportunities to P.E.I.

An agreement between the four Atlantic provinces to improve the electrical grid could bring opportunities to further develop renewable energy, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

Prime minister on board with improving grid, says MacLauchlan

Renewable energy systems, which can't produce power on demand, can be difficult for electrical grids to deal with. (Reuters)

An agreement between the four Atlantic provinces to improve the electrical grid could bring opportunities to further develop renewable energy, says P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

Improvements are also required, said MacLauchlan, just to deal with growing demand.

"In Prince Edward Island, since 2015, we've seen a 15 per cent increase in the peak demand for electrical power," he said.

"That's because people are switching to heat pumps in their homes, it's because of growth in the economy, it's expansion of our population."

Modernization and expansion

The electrical grid has some bottlenecks, he said. A particular concern is the stretch from Onslow, N.S., to Memramcook, N.B., and another one near Moncton, N.B. These areas need both modernization and more capacity, said MacLauchlan.

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan says there are bottlenecks in the region's grid. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

It was trouble at the distribution point in Memramcook that led to an Island-wide blackout in November.

Improvements to the grid will also make it easier to expand the use of renewable energy, he said. Renewables such as wind and solar can be a problem for the grid, because you can't predict when they will be producing power.

"The more we are tied together, the more we have a system that works as one, we should be able to put more interruptible or variable clean power or renewable power — whether it's wind or solar — into that system," said MacLauchlan.

Prime minister on board

As chair of the Council of Atlantic Premiers, MacLauchlan pitched the plan to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa this week.

The improvements will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, says MacLauchlan. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

MacLauchlan said Trudeau is interested in the idea both for its ability to improve the Atlantic economy and for the opportunity to expand renewable energy use.

Discussions have not yet reached the point of setting budgets.

"It's always in the hundreds of millions, I can tell you, when it comes to transmission systems," MacLauchlan said.

The cost of the potential project and how much of that will come from the provinces and how much from Ottawa will be worked out as discussions continue.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now