PEI

Vote on $23M generator project postponed in Summerside

Summerside city council has decided to wait before making a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the development of a $23-million backup electric generator.

'It's a big decision, and council wants to be sure that when they make it, they make the right decision'

Summerside council voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone making a decision on the generator project. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Summerside city council has decided to hold off on making a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the development of a $23-million backup electric generator.

The P.E.I. city was looking at inking a deal with Kore Energy to install the 16-megawatt generator to meet the city's generation capacity needs.

Coun. Gordie Whitlock put forward the motion to indefinitely postpone the vote. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

But in a unanimous vote during Monday night's council meeting, council members agreed to have a third party do an independent analysis on all viable options before voting on the project — which council was scheduled to do during the meeting.

​"It's a big decision and council wants to be sure that when they make it, they make the right decision," said Coun. Gordie Whitlock, who put forward the motion to indefinitely postpone the vote. 

Several council members expressed concerns that communications with the public haven't been as clear as they could have been, and that it would be best to wait until they have more information.

Weighing options

The city has determined that it will need 16 megawatts of generation capacity within the next few years, to be available for emergencies.

Currently, the city generates its own power and buys additional energy from New Brunswick Power, but was looking at generating its own power in full rather than continuing to purchase power from out-of-province. 

Whitlock explained that a third party could help determine whether there's a green option available, whether the city should continue to buy from New Brunswick Power, or whether an electrical generator would be in the city's best interests.

Greener alternatives

Stephen Howard of Renewable Lifestyles addressed council twice in advance of this vote to express his concerns around the project. He said a third party analysis is a great idea and that the city should be focusing on renewable options to meet its energy needs. 

Stephen Howard says the city should be looking at renewable options to meet its energy needs. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"Buying a generator does not give us any flexibility, and we're locked into old technology for decades to come," he said.

Whitlock said that Summerside is a "leader in green energy," and is very interested in becoming even more green, adding that he'd like to know through the third-party analysis whether a green option would be a viable one.

Money will be spent either way, councillor says

Whitlock explained that one way or another, money will be spent on energy, it's just a matter of determining what the best option will be. 

"The big piece that people don't understand is the fact that we're regulated to have it. We have no choice. So the $23 million will be spent. It'll be spent either by buying the capacity from New Brunswick power, or it'll be spent by us providing the capacity ourselves in one form or another, whether it's a generator or whether it's a green solution," he said.

"But the money will be spent, we have no choice in that."

The city will issue a request for proposals to try and find a firm or an individual to perform a study, do research, and come back to council with a report.

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