PEI

Electric cable project work begins

One of the biggest construction projects in P.E.I. history is underway — Maritime Electric's installation of two new electrical cables to carry power under the Northumberland Strait between P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

'This is certainly the largest project ever in our company's history'

This crane ship and marine excavator are at work in the Northumberland Strait just off Borden-Carleton, P.E.I. (CBC)

One of the biggest construction projects in P.E.I. history is underway — Maritime Electric's installation of two new electrical cables to carry power under the Northumberland Strait between P.E.I. and New Brunswick.

Two existing power cables connecting the Island to the mainland are nearly 40 years old and are at the end of their lifespan. The cables will allow Maritime Electric to import up to 360 MW of electricity, bolstering the 200 MW cables installed four decades ago that are currently serving P.E.I., shipping power over from New Brunswick.

"It's an exciting day for us, the last 24 hours, that we're really starting to do some more work on the P.E.I. side," said Kim Griffin, spokeswoman for Maritime Electric.

Rocks around the clock 

A large crane ship, now visible from the shore in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., is working around the clock to dredge the bottom of the strait, clearing rocks and debris before the actual cables are laid in October.

It's 'the largest project ever in our company's history,' says Maritime Electric's Kim Griffin. (CBC)

The utility is managing the project and will maintain the electricity cables, while the P.E.I. government will own the cables and is sharing the $140 million cost with the federal government. Work has been underway on the New Brunswick side of the strait since the beginning of June.

"This is certainly the largest project ever in our company's history, and it's an important one for Prince Edward Island," said Griffin.

"It's a growing demand on Prince Edward Island and this really does secure our electricity future by having these cables in place," she added. 

Along the shore, a powerful marine excavator called a Starfish is also clearing rocks from the strait's floor. There are only four machines like it in the world, said Griffin. 

Crews are also building roads and installing trailers and other infrastructure on the shore.

Archaeologists on site

As the Starfish begins dredging along the shore, archaeologists are surveying the area.

There are only four of these machines, called a Starfish, in the entire world, says Maritime Electric. (Matt Steeves/Stantec)

"We have archaeologists on site making sure there's nothing of significance. If we find something, we have a protocol in place to seal it and send it off," said Griffin.

The utility also has environmental monitors for every aspect of the project, she added.

The new cables should be operating by the end of this year, according to Maritime Electric's plan.

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