No cables attached
Premier Wade MacLauchlan says the federal government doesn’t want new power cables attached to Confederation Bridge
P.E.I.’s new power cables will not be attached to the Confederation Bridge.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan says the federal government simply isn’t crazy about the idea of affixing two 180-megawatt cables to the 13-kilometre span.
“They expressed serious reservations based on their assessment of engineering risks that would come with attaching cable to the bridge,’’ MacLauchlan said.
“I don’t think there’s much appetite on the part of the federal government to pursue that (option) any further so what we’ve been exploring is the underwater cable.’’
The request for proposals on the estimated $100 million project closed in late June. The federal government is in for $50 million.
Opposition MLA Jamie Fox, who represents the Borden-Kinkora district, says the stakeholders should be exploring the bridge as an option so the work doesn’t impact the fishery.
“It is environmentally friendly (and) it will not impact the environment whatsoever,’’ Fox told The Guardian in explaining why he thinks it’s better to go the bridge route.
“It will also allow for further expansion of any infrastructure needs coming into the province (and) will allow year-round maintenance to the cable at any time of year.’’
Maritime Electric had been exploring the idea of placing a third interconnection power cable inside the Confederation Bridge.
However, John Gaudet, vicepresident of the utility, told The Guardian in 2011, that engineers said it could cause the bridge damage.
The concerns are that it could cause corrosion of the steel that was made to build the bridge, referring to the post-tension rebar that helps hold the bridge together.
Gaudet said on Wednesday to the best of his knowledge that hasn’t changed but asked The Guardian to confirm it with the P.E.I. Energy Corporation. That call was not immediately returned.
It means the cables will be smaller and less expensive because they will now sit on the bottom of the Northumberland Strait.
MacLauchlan said it isn’t about what is more feasible, adding that the federal government will take over ownership of the bridge in 2032, once it finishes making payments to bridge builder Strait Crossing.
“I don’t think it’s feasible if the (eventual) owner is not interested in it. It was a scenario that was being explored going back a number of years. It’s not being explored at this time.’’
Fox said it isn’t too late to change course, explaining that the contract to start the underwater sea project hasn’t been signed yet.
The MLA also noted that Summerside Utility, which produces a small amount of the province’s power, should be at the discussion table.
“We’ll disrupt the sea beds. (We need) to lessen the impact environmentally and this is the option to do that,’’ Fox said.
Maritime Electric had been exploring the idea of placing a power cable inside the Confederation Bridge a few years ago but Premier Wade MacLauchlan says that’s not happening. Two new cables will likely lie along the bottom of the Northumberland Strait.