SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Summerside city councillors have indefinitely postponed the purchase of a $23-million generator.
At Monday night’s monthly council meeting, council members were faced with a resolution to the often-contentious debate about the Kore Energy generator. But, before councillors were able to vote, Coun. Gordie Whitlock put forward a motion to indefinitely postpone the decision “until an independent third party can do a complete analysis on all viable options to satisfy the electric capacity needs for the Summerside Electric Utility.”
Council approved Whitlock’s motion, voting unanimously to pass it. Coun. Brian McFeely was absent from the vote.
Whitlock said this motion wasn’t a knock against city staffers who have been working over recent years to develop the generator proposal and he reiterated they did their due diligence.
However, he also pointed out Summerside’s continuous strides toward a greener city.
“This is a long-term commitment, if it’s made, up to 35 years. Technology changes very quickly. It has troubled me that we only had one quote for the generator, and we couldn’t compare it. I’ve done research on this topic since our last discussion and I believe there are alternatives out there and I’d like an independent third party to study the entire situation to see what possibilities are out there.”
Some councillors raised concerns that if the study wasn’t completed within eight months the decision would be pushed onto the incoming council in November.
Whitlock said he was fine with the study taking a few months or longer than the remainder of his term.
Council also discussed that residents of Summerside may not understand the need or the options because of the way it was communicated and agreed that more should be done.
While many councillors voiced concerns, they contended that they wouldn’t feel right with approving the partnership with Kore until residents of the city fully understood the details and options.
Coun. Frank Costa said he could agree with the postponement but has doubts a green energy option can meet the city’s needs, adding that, either way, $23 million is going to be spent whether investing into the generator, buying from NB Power or otherwise.
“I don’t have confidence in a green energy option that can meet our capacity. I think there is an interest within the city to have green energy and I think people would like to see us go that direction, but I don’t have confidence that that’s available to us now.”
Summerside Mayor Bill Martin was pleased the vote ended with a unanimous decision and was comfortable with the proposal.
“Where you have a significant purchase and very polarized opinions…until such time there is additional information provided that could move council one way or another, it makes sense to postpone the vote.”
Summerside residents Steve Howard and Nancy Quinn were in the public gallery taking in the meeting.
Howard, who has voiced his concerns multiple times about the Kore generator, was pleased the vote has been postponed but stresses the money isn’t going to be spent one way or another.
“A lot is going to change. A lot has changed. We’re standing on a precipice of change . . . Maybe we need a small generator to get us by until those five or 10 years pass when we have that perfect solution.”
Quinn agreed, saying there must be a short-term solution for the time being.
“After reading what I could about the topic, I wasn’t convinced (the generator) could be the best idea. There must be a Band-Aid solution that might be available rather than investing that much money in such a long-term product which would be obsolete by the time it was paid off. I was exceptionally glad about Councillor Whitlock’s motion.”