PEI

Point Lepreau delay to cost P.E.I. millions

A further delay to the refurbishment of New Brunswick's Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station will cost neighbouring P.E.I. millions of dollars, the province's utility said Friday.

A further delay to the refurbishment of New Brunswick's Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station will cost P.E.I. millions of dollars, the province's utility said Friday.

Maritime Electric normally buys about 20 per cent of its energy from the plant. It has said the cost of buying replacement energy would reach $50 million by 2011, and the latest delay means that price tag will only grow.

The nuclear station was originally supposed to be back online by September 2009. That was previously pushed back to 2011, and Friday, Atomic Energy of Canada announced it could be 2012 before power flows from the station again.

P.E.I. Energy Minister Richard Brown said it is a major problem for the province. The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, which sets Island power rates, is also concerned, he said.

"All I can say is each month that there's a delay in this Point Lepreau project, Maritime Electric has to go out and purchase replacement power. That can cost anywhere between an additional $1 million to $2 million a month, depending on the month," he said.

"It is a major concern, as IRAC has indicated. They want a complete review of it filed with them. I want that review filed with me at the same time, and we want to see what the issue here is and what we can do."

In July, IRAC granted Maritime Electric a rate increase so it could recoup the extra costs from consumers over a 30-year period.

Fred O'Brien, chief executive of Maritime Electric, said he does not have any immediate plans to ask for another rate hike.

O'Brien and Brown said the federal government should be footing the bill, because it hired Atomic Energy of Canada to refurbish the power plant.

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