Maritime Electric has set itself an ambitious new goal in Canada's smallest province.
An annual sustainability report for 2022 – the first to be released by the company – outlined plans to further convert to greener energy sources that rely less on fossil fuels.
The goal is ambitious but achievable with the progress the company has already made to convert to greener energy, said CEO Jason Roberts during an interview on July 28 with the SaltWire Network.
“Certainly, these are some significant undertakings, but we think it can be done,” he said.
The target exceeds the Paris Agreement emissions pathway of limiting the average global temperature rise to less than 2 C above pre-industrial levels. It also aligns with the government of P.E.I.’s transition to net-zero by 2040.
To achieve this, the company plans to integrate more renewable energy into the system, such as wind and solar energy, and to try to use more power from Island sources.
Maritime Electric currently purchases 100 per cent of the energy produced from wind farms on the Island – not quite 20 per cent of what it uses annually.
Last year, 66.3 per cent of the Island’s energy was purchased through NB Power. In addition, 13.7 per cent was nuclear energy, net metering made up 0.4 per cent and diesel accounted for only 0.1 per cent.
Roberts said the company needs to find a way to make its buildings more efficient. This means upgrading equipment and expanding wire sizes to allow access for more power.
The report also set a goal of converting its entire fleet of service vehicles to electric vehicles by 2032.
“We looked at our fleet, we looked at fuels we used to heat our buildings and we looked at how much comes from our generators here in Charlottetown to see where we can make reductions,” Roberts said.
It is also trying to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint, lower heating costs for Islanders and possibly switch to electricity as a heating source.
“We don’t generate a whole lot (of fossil fuels), but they need to be there for backup purposes.”
Another area where improvements are being made is with streetlights across the province.
Since 2018, over 9,500 LED streetlights have been installed with the goal being to convert all remaining streetlights to LED by 2025. LED lights consume less than half of the energy, and in 2021, they helped save approximately 120,000 kWh.
Maritime Electric is also in the process of decommissioning the Charlottetown Thermal Generating Station (CTGS), located in the east end of the city.
Before the installation of subsea cables connecting P.E.I. to New Brunswick, the CTGS was the primary source of electricity generation on the Island.
“We have made significant progress at CTGS since 2015 by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 87 per cent,” said Roberts.
“There is a lot of hydroelectric energy produced in those provinces, so if we can find a way to incorporate a system through this part of the country it would be a great benefit to have.”
Another idea is possibly adding the province to a proposed energy corridor known as the Atlantic Loop, which would expand the electrical grid connections between Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and provide greater access to renewable electricity in P.E.I.
“There is a lot of hydroelectric energy produced in those provinces, so if we can find a way to incorporate a system through this part of the country it would be a great benefit to have,” he said.
It is not known how much these goals will cost, but Islanders should expect a transition over the next few years, he added.
“Obviously P.E.I. has seen some very high inflation rates over the past year, but I don’t see any incremental costs coming forward. It’s important for people to remember that we have a very green energy supply mix today, and it’s always a transition to move away from fossil fuels. We all need to work there so we can get there as quickly as possible and efficiently as possible.”
SaltWire also contacted Angela Banks, the net-zero co-ordinator for the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action, but did not receive comment before deadline.
Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian