PEI

Millvale, P.E.I., residents concerned with high-voltage lines

Some Millvale residents are unhappy about new high-voltage electric transmission lines planned for their area, complaining trees were cut in their community to make way for the lines before they even knew what was happening.

'There was a pretty significant miscommunication on our part and we're sorry for that' says utility

The Osinga family is unhappy Maritime Electric cut the tops off trees in front of their Millvale, P.E.I. property. (CBC)

Some Millvale residents are unhappy about new high-voltage electric transmission lines planned for their area, complaining trees were cut in their community to make way for the lines before they even knew what was happening. 

Maritime Electric says the proposed 10 km of new 69 kV transmission line and new substation are necessary to keep up with electricity demands in the area, and that the new power poles will be about 6 metres taller than the existing poles.

"Just completely flabbergasted I guess, like how they can do that so quickly over the Easter weekend?" said Anna Osinga, whose family has been living and farming in Millvale for about 25 years. 

Up until a few days ago there was a line of tall trees in front of their house — until crews arrived and cut off the tree tops.  

Anna Osinga and her family are unhappy with the lack of consultation on new high-voltage electricity lines in Millvale, P.E.I. (CBC)

"Some people would call these trees heritage trees. They've been here so long, they're the face of our property. And the way they were cut, looks really bad." 

The trees are being cut on the opposite side of the road from where poles are currently, Osinga said. 

"It would make most sense to at least have it at least on the side of the road where it's at now. And the way it was handled was very poorly."

Osinga also worries the new high-voltage lines will be too close to their house, and worries it won't be safe for her family or their animals.

Utility apologizes

A poster details what will be discussed at a public meeting April 12. (Facebook)
The electric utility admits it slipped up by not talking with residents. 

"There was a pretty significant miscommunication on our part and we're sorry for that," said Kim Griffin, Maritime Electric's communications manager.

"We were trying to get ahead and get the tree trimming done as soon as we could, and we were under the understanding that some people knew. We quickly found out that people didn't know."

The trimming will stop and Maritime Electric plans to have a community meeting with people who live in the area in the next week or two, Griffin said. 

Demand growing

However, she said, the upgrades need to be done to accommodate growing demand.

"We're getting a lot of electricity growth from larger centres around the areas and we're finding that some of our substations — we need another one." 

When it comes to safety, Maritime Electric follows Health Canada guidelines when building power lines, Griffin added.

Sharon Labchuck lives just down the road and says new and larger power lines won't fit it with the landscape. 

"We live in one of the biggest upland blocks of hardwood forest here. There's heritage roads all over. People come here to hike and enjoy nature," Labchuk said. 

With files from Stephanie Kelly

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