PEI

'It will not be on the backs of Islanders': Delays laying electric cables won't cost P.E.I. taxpayers

Islanders will not be on the hook for any cost overruns associated with delays in laying new electric cables in the Northumberland Strait the province said Tuesday in the provincial legislature, as the Opposition accused government of mismanaging the huge project.

'Any overruns are the responsibility of that company, not Islanders'

The Isaac Newton is back burying two large electric cables beneath the Northumberland Strait. (Maritime Electric)

Islanders will not be on the hook for any cost overruns associated with delays in laying new electric cables in the Northumberland Strait the province said Tuesday in the provincial legislature, as the Opposition accused government of mismanaging the huge project. 

Last October, work began to bury the new twin 180-megawatt cables, which were supposed to be operational Jan. 23 — but there were problems burying the cables when ice formed earlier than usual. The specialized cable ship Isaac Newton was forced to tie up for the winter in Halifax, returning to P.E.I. to begin finishing the job in early April

"All the responsibility for laying that cable and costs associated with any overruns are the responsibility of that company, not Islanders — and it will not be on the backs of Islanders," said Paula Biggar, P.E.I. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy of the $142 million project to secure two 180-megawatt electric cables under the Northumberland Strait between P.E.I. and New Brunswick. 

"That company" is LS Cable, hired for the specialized job by Maritime Electric. 

Affecting P.E.I. fishery

The project is 40 per cent complete, Maritime Electric said yesterday, and is now scheduled to be done by the end of May. 

Back in January, Maritime Electric's spokesperson Kim Griffin said the company won't be on the hook for any extra costs, and neither would they be handed on to taxpayers or ratepayers. 

'Any cost overruns are the responsibility of the cable company that are laying those cables,' said P.E.I. Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. (P.E.I. Legislative Assembly)

"This is all in our contract," said Griffin.

"LS Cable is the company that is responsible to not only manufacture but install and ultimately protect the cable. So the province of P.E.I. has not taken ownership of the cable. It still belongs to LS Cable."

Government also faced accusations Tuesday of breaking a promise not to affect scallop fishing season.

A fund has been set aside to offset losses by fishermen who now are shut out of a 500-metre exclusion zone around the cable work, assured both Biggar and Fisheries Minister Alan McIsaac.

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