P.E.I. government exploring ways for communities to generate their own electricity
‘How do we do that in a way that we don’t impact the grid'
The P.E.I. government is taking steps to review energy legislation and explore new options when it comes to generating power across Island communities.
Energy Minister Steven Myers said one of those options will be identifying ways for Island communities to generate their own energy.
He said the move would provide energy independence, create jobs and economic development, and save the communities on their energy bills.
But the move will require sweeping legislative changes, that may include the merging of the Electric Power Act and the Renewable Energy Act.
Myers said creating energy independence should ensure a steady supply of electricity while also ensuring costs remain reasonable for P.E.I. residents.
"We have communities that are looking to generate their own electricity for their own needs," said Myers, adding the province will not dictate what energy sources communities can invest in.
He also said the province wants to find new community-based models that will complement existing services.
"How do we do that in a way that we don't impact the grid, that we don't impact the service that Maritime Electric is delivering, that we don't drive up the rates for all other Islanders."
Government inspired by trip abroad
Last fall, a group of P.E.I. MLAs traveled to Samsø, a small Danish island, where they learned about renewable and sustainable energy systems being used there.
Samsø produces 100 per cent of its electricity from wind and biomass. The P.E.I. government said the Island produces 25 per cent of its electricity from wind.
Following the trip, Myers said he was impressed by the control the island had over its energy production and would like to see if a similar model could work on P.E.I.
Myers said the legislative review will also look at different ways to store energy on the Island.
He said that will allow communities to sell that excess energy into the provincial electricity grid, and those revenues could be redirected into that community's priorities.
'For the survival and the future of their community'
"This is kind of a model that we had suggested that would be in place that would allow people in their own community to produce a revenue stream for themselves that they could then turn into projects like rinks, or parks, or tennis courts or whatever it is that community thinks is the most important thing for the survival and the future of their community," said Myers.
The province said Maritime Electric, Summerside Electric and the P.E.I. Energy Corporation will be involved in the review
Government also wants to hear from Islanders and will be accepting written submissions beginning Monday. Myers said the province is also planning to host public consultations, but because of COVID-19, those will be held virtually in mid-June.
Myers calls this a major move, one that will take time. He said he doesn't expect the legislation to be made public until the spring of 2021.
"I want to make sure we take our time and do the proper consultation."