After Fiona, P.E.I. utility says it's exploring ways to bury residential power lines

CHARLOTTETOWN — The chief executive of Prince Edward Island's main electric utility says the firm is exploring ways to encourage the burying of distribution lines as it reflects on the massive damage of post-tropical storm Fiona.

Jason Roberts was testifying today before a legislature committee that is examining the impact of the storm and ways for Maritime Electric to improve the reliability of the grid.

The executive says burying distribution lines is four to five times pricier than keeping them overhead, but it is increasingly necessary given the likelihood of more high-intensity storms due to climate change.

Roberts says the utility had to remove 35,000 trees near lines after Fiona, the main reason it took about 19 days for full restoration of power.

He told members of the legislature that repair crews had to fix 1,133 broken utility poles, 445 damaged transformers and 140 kilometres of downed wires.

Roberts said the subsidiary of Fortis Inc. is asking the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission to allow increases in tree cutting budgets to between $5 million and $6 million from current levels of $3 million.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2022.

The Canadian Press