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Summerside council weighs in on the pros and cons of obtaining new electric generator

Greg Gaudet, left, director of municipal services for the City of Summerside presents an electric utility generation proposal to councillors at Tuesday's committee of council meeting.
Greg Gaudet, left, director of municipal services for the City of Summerside presents an electric utility generation proposal to councillors at Tuesday's committee of council meeting. - Millicent McKay

Discussion for $23 million for new power generating equipment for the community to be used in times of emergency and back-up purposes

SUMMERSIDE – Summerside city councillors are deliberating on investing about $23 million for new power generating equipment for the community to be used in times of emergency and back-up purposes.

Councillors weighed in on an electric utility generation proposal on Tuesday at the March committee of council meeting.

Greg Gaudet, the city’s director of municipal services, outlined that the city currently outsources part of its power supply from New Brunswick, but with a new dispatchable energy generator like the one proposed, the city would have more security in providing energy in the case of power outages or emergencies.

“We’re trying to create the value locally and create more security locally. There are a lot things that can happen between New Brunswick and Summerside that could cause different outages. And in those cases, although we already have the assets purchased over there we can’t get them here.”

The city of Summerside currently has eight generators in its electrical plant, with three dating back to installation in the 1950s and 1960s.

Gaudet says the maintenance on those three units becomes more difficult each year and that if there is an investment in new electricity generation tools, they could be retired over the next two years.

“Sixty years is quite long enough for a generator to run. We recommend decommissioning the three units and replace them with new generation. The utility needs to have dispatchable generation that you can turn on with fuel at any time.”

Gaudet and his staff began a public process and put out an RFP asking for renewable and non-renewable options for dispatchable generation.

“There were several responses, but none of the renewable options were seen as dispatchable. We did get a proposal from Kore Energy, a spin-off of Nautican, and have a relationship with GE power sector for combustion turbines.”

Kore is asking for $19.6 million for 16-megawatt dual fuel turbogenerator. There are six units installed in the world.

“We’ve been negotiating with them on that price for about three months. It started in the $20 million range,” he said adding that the Kore contract includes the turbine, testing and commission, the installation on site when the unit arrives, project support services, shipping, exhaust stack and silencer, air intake, super structure supports and transport.

In addition, it includes the test and commission to determine if it complies with specifications. There is also a two-year warranty.

In order to install the Kore generator in the Summerside energy grid, there would be an additional cost of $2.2 million for electrical grid connections, $680,000 for demolition and reconstruction and $585,500 in project management and engineering.

When it came time for councillors to consider the recommendation, Coun. Tyler DesRoches asked for the recommendation to be brought forward at the next committee of council in order for city staff and councillors to review all of the possible scenarios for cost, amortization cycle and other concerns raised.

“I want to see some of these numbers. This isn’t bananas, this is a lot of money. I’m not one bit comfortable approving this without seeing all the different scenarios. It’s not small change.”

Millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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