P.E.I. energy minister says province interested in N.L. hydro project

Wayne Thibodeau
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CHARLOTTETOWN The Prince Edward Island government is looking to tap into the proposed Lower Churchill Falls hydro project in Labrador in an effort to secure the Islands growing appetite for energy.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is eyeing Cape Breton as a place to land a proposed multibillion-dollar subsea cable from the hydro project.

The power would be pumped out of Churchill Falls by cable to Newfoundland before going through the undersea cable to feed markets in the Maritimes and the United States.

P.E.I. Energy Minister Richard Brown told the Charlottetown Guardian he wants to talk to Newfoundland and Labrador about connecting his province to the project.

Brown said that could be done either by replacing Cape Breton as the Maritime entry point, or by the addition of another undersea cable from the Nova Scotia line to P.E.I.

Its hoped power could start flowing from Lower Churchill by 2015, creating enough power to light all the homes in Atlantic Canada plus parts of Ontario.

Were extremely interested, said Brown. There are various routes that are available. Lets put it this way, it would be wonderful if we could tap into a line that is passing through.

Maritime Electric is seeking a 5.3 per cent rate hike, as well as changes to the way Islanders are billed for electricity. Those changes would require Islanders to pay more of the true electricity costs up front, to prevent large sums of debt being built up by Maritime Electric.

Despite the rate hike request, Maritime Electric said bills should remain stable over the next 12 months.

Thats because Islanders are already paying more for electricity. Bills went up by as much as 19 per cent last year because of skyrocketing energy prices.

Brown said hes going to wait until the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission rules on the utilitys latest rate hike before commenting, but he said he continues to believe electricity rates are too high for residential and business customers.

Organizations: Maritime Electric, Islanders, Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., Lower Churchill Falls Cape Breton CHARLOTTETOWN The Prince Edward Island United States Nova Scotia Atlantic Canada Ontario

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