SUMMERSIDE – The city’s smart meter program gives Summerside an edge over other communities in attracting business and boosting development.
Mike Thususka, Summerside’s director of economic development, told city council Tuesday, that when comparing area municipalities, several came up similar in what they had to offer the business market. He said the western capital’s ability to capitalize on wind-generated power gives it a distinct advantage.
He said when he added the smart meter program to Summerside’s list it gave the city an even larger advantage.
“The senior managers (of the city) get together once a week and we have discussions as to how can we make this city better?” Thususka said. “I’m not here to talk about numbers and technical descriptions. In talking to senior managers I know we have an investment decision to make in terms of our utility bill. That’s what it is, a utility bill. This is an investment in our utility.”
Thususka acknowledged the city has a decision to make. It can partner with private Internet suppliers and utilize their fibre optics or invest in the community by using the city-owned Route 2 Internet service.
“I come to work every day I and I come to work for my kids,” he said. “My daughter is 17 years old, she’s going off to university and if I don’t make this a better community for her, she’s not going to come back. If we don’t find ways to make this community better through the things that we do and what we invest in, we’re going to lose our youth. I’m really concerned about that.”
Thususka said by his estimates the smart meter project is a $5 million investment in the community.
“That’s what it is, an investment in our future,” he said. “It allows us to manage and maximize our core service in the electrical distribution business, that’s the purpose of what we’re trying to achieve here. This is an economic development energy initiative.”
Thususka said since 1988, Summerside has faced the challenge of increasing its share of commercial and industrial assessment.
“In essence, we’re not able to grow our business as well as we’d liked to,” he said. “I think through this project we’d be able to leverage and get the one degree of separation that we’re looking for.”
Thususka said the one-degree separation comes through the city’s ownership of its electrical utility and its ability to capitalize on wind generation to give better rates and cleaner energy to the public.