Questions By Members, 9 June 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Speaker: We will now move to a question from the hon. Leader of the Third Party.

New generator and fossil fuels

Leader of the Third Party: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last week in the House we learned that Maritime Electric has submitted a proposal to IRAC to construct a new 50-megawatt electric generator. I recognize the need to provide Islanders with stable and affordable energy and I am happy to see that this new capacity is going to come under public ownership.

A question to the hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy: Given the motion moved by this minister on the first day of business here in this House – which reads, and I quote: “that the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island support and encourage the provincial government to maintain its leadership role in the development of Island-generated renewable energy” – and given that we live in a time when governments around the world – even our own federal government, which you could hardly list as an environmental leader – are committing to complete de-carbonization within this century, why is Prince Edward Island building a new generating facility which will apparently use fossil fuels as its energy source?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. member, in regard to your question about the new generator that’s needed, the capacity right now that Maritime Electric has to have as a backup in the event we need extra power right now, we’re at capacity in terms of that, so they have come to us in regard to the need to have a backup generator.

This will not be operating at capacity at all times but it is a necessary infrastructure purchase that’s needed to ensure that Islanders have energy 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Lower energy rates and oil prices

Dr. Bevan-Baker: I realize, indeed, that the Island does need an adjunct to our current energy generation capacity, but this proposal came with a promise of saving Islanders millions of dollars.

So could the hon. minister inform the House how such a promise of lower rates could be made in the long term given how volatile oil prices have been in the past and will undoubtedly continue to be into the future?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. member, when I referenced the savings to Islanders that was in regard to in comparison to if Maritime Electric were to purchase it themselves and borrow money from Prince Edward Island to do that, their interest rate that they would be paying would be less and those savings that they would have incurred would not go back to Islanders, it would have gone back to the rate shareholders.

By purchasing this ourselves on our own, through the PEI Energy Corp., we’ll be able to ensure that in the first year alone $1.7 million would be saved because it will not be charged back to the ratepayers of Prince Edward Island in regard to electricity.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, second supplementary.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, hon. minister, for your answer.

I understand that the way that the loan is structured, it is possible that the Province of Prince Edward Island will save some money, however, I suspect that any savings that we may see through loan structuring will be outweighed by the increased cost of the fuels that we’re going to use for this project.

New generator and environmental impact assessment

I want to ask the minister a supplementary question. Given that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from this project, and that the environmental damage it will cause will absolutely contribute to climate change, will this government submit this process to an environmental impact assessment?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In regard to this particular project, we’ll be looking at all options in regard to – and ensuring that whatever projects that we go forward with are environmentally friendly, and we always take that into consideration in any project that we endeavour.

Thank you.

 

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