SUMMERSIDE – The federal government is backing a City of Summerside plan that will build on the use of wind energy and reduce energy costs in the city.
MyPower Net will receive a $945,000 investment from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund that will allow for the expansion of a digital electrical network that will support the local business community.
“MyPowerNet is the project which deals with the heating program, the Heat for Less Program, and the installation of electrical thermal storage units which are capable of taking energy from the wind and storing it in the high density ceramic bricks and being used to be able to heat homes,” said Summerside Chief Administrative Officer Bob Ashley.
“The other piece is the communications piece. This is the installation of smart meters and the optical fibre which is necessary for the furnaces and the meters to be able to communicate smartly with the utility to ensure that we are getting the most efficient timing and delivery of the energy,” he said.
The plan involves an expansion of the network that now it doesn’t occupy the whole city.
“It’s very expensive to lay fibre and hang it and to bring it to the homes,” Ashley said. “This project will support the expansion of the fibre into more areas of the city.
We have multi-phases, this is phase three and four of nine or 10 phases.”
The ACOA funding brings to an end a contentious issue that has split city council over the past two years.
MyPowerNet is taking over the former Smart Grid Meter Program.
The issue in the past was the cost of the fibre optics. Four members of city council wanted the city to partner with EastLink, Bell Aliant or Rogers to help defray the high costs of fibre installation.
The thinking at the time was, these companies already have the lines laid and the technology to increase it at minimal costs and the city should investigate partnering. Another issue was that the some members of council saw the city putting itself in competition with the private sector.
On two occasions the council was split four in favour and four against, with Mayor Basil Stewart casting the deciding vote not to partner but for the city to undertake the project on its own.
Ashley said he hopes the ACOA funding will alleviate this issue.
“”There’s a legitimate argument to be made on both sides of the fence on that one,” Ashley said. “However, there are more and more cities that are wanting to get into this game because there are a lot of things that are complementary to the existing telecom companies, and we’re not interested in delivering telephone services, cable TV and that kind of thing. But we are interested in the infrastructure piece, which is the energy piece, which Bell Aliant and the others are not really in that game. We’re the best ones equipped. We have the knowledge to do this.”
Ashley said the program does come with financial benefits.
“The savings will come through the actual energy efficiency of the units themselves,” he said. “Lower rates will be possible when the residents use the off peak times of user rates which happens in the early hours. The savings are quite significant.” firstname.lastname@example.org