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Prince Edward Island subsea power cable project gets underway

Construction of a C$100 million pair of underwaterelectricity cables between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is underwaywith pre-trenching work on both sides of the Northumberland Strait.

The work will clear potential rock obstructions that coulddamage the dual cables as they are installed, Prince Edward Island's Departmentof Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy said in a statement on itswebsite. The pre-trenching project is expected to take about eight weeks andinstallation of the two cables linking the island and New Brunswick's powergrid is scheduled to begin in mid-October. The project, with a capacity of 360MW, is expected to be online by the end of the year.

"This is the most significant strategic investment inthe province since the construction of the Confederation bridge,"provincial infrastructure minister Paula Biggar said in the April 29 statement,referring to the road link between Prince Edward Island and mainland Canada. "Ourgovernment has worked hard to bring this about, and I am pleased that it is nowgetting underway."

The cables will be owned by the province and leased toFortis Inc.-ownedelectricity utility MaritimeElectric Co. Ltd. They will replace 100-MW cables that are nearly40 years old. The province and Canada's federal government are splitting thecost of the project.

The new transmission capacity would counter volatile rateincreases associated with the existing cables, the Prince Edward Islandgovernment said when the project was announcedin June 2015. Maritime Electric uses diesel- and heavy oil-fired generators forpower when supply is unavailable from the mainland. It also buys as much as 52MW from the North Cape Windand Eastern Kingswind projects located on the island.

"The cable interconnection is essential to our securityand reliability of supply and to meet our future electricity needs,"Biggar said in the April 29 statement.