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Maritime Electric seeks budget approval to replace, upgrade aging assets in P.E.I.

Kim Griffin, manager of customer service, corporate communications and public affairs with Maritime Electric, poses with the Stash unit installed on the building in Charlottetown.
Kim Griffin is Maritime Electric’s manager of customer service, corporate communications and public affairs. -File

Maritime Electric is giving customers a look at its spending plans for next year, including plans to increase security at its facilities in response to copper thefts.

The company’s 2019 annual budget outlining expenditures has been submitted to the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC) for approval. A copy of the capital budget is posted on IRAC’s website.

The company is budgeting $32.9 million in expenditures, which is an increase compared to the previous three annual capital expenditure proposals – $30.8 million (2018), $29.4 million (2017) and $30.9 million (2016).

Maritime Electric’s Kim Griffin said 60 per cent of the budget is allocated for replacing or upgrading aging assets.

This includes $2.9 million for line extensions, $4.2 million for line rebuilds and $7.3 million for substation and transmission projects. Line rebuilds are planned for Union Road, Iona Road, Howlan Road, Northport and North Carleton Road.

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The company is budgeting $2.8 million for an expansion at the Lorne Valley Switch Station, and $1.1 million to replace the transformer at the airport substation. Replacing the airport substation transformer will increase the overall power distribution that is supplied by the substation and the West Royalty substation to meet the growth in the area, especially customers in the Biocommons Industrial Park and West Royalty Business Park.

Related: Q&A with Maritime Electric CEO John Gaudet

With respect to copper theft, Maritime Electric is allocating $70,000 to install cameras at its substations, beginning with the Borden, Bedeque, Sherbrooke and West Royalty substations, to deal with the issue and increase security. The company is also planning to spend $35,000 for fencing upgrades.

According to the report, Maritime Electric wants to replace exposed copper grounding leads with Erico cable, a theft deterrent.

Griffin noted some of the substations are in very remote areas, and some power outages were related to copper thefts.

In addition, $1.4 million is being budgeted to cover equipment damaged by storms, fire and motor vehicle collisions. In 2015, the company spent $1.9 million in this category, which was especially impacted by the Dec. 4 ice storm that hit P.E.I. That storm broke 111 poles and damaged 14 transformers. The next year, just under $2 million was spent in this area as a result of storms and the replacement of 165 broken poles and 15 damaged transformers.

Maritime Electric is also nearing the end of its three-year, 2.3-per-cent rate increases. The company is preparing to file a new proposal to IRAC before the current rate increases expire in March.

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