No ca­bles at­tached

Premier Wade MacLauch­lan says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment doesn’t want new power ca­bles at­tached to Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

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.

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

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.

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