Ottawa to pay for Maritime Electric's Fiona-related expenses

The federal government has agreed to pay Maritime Electric's Fiona expenses so that electricity rates don't go up for Islanders.  (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)
The federal government has agreed to pay Maritime Electric's Fiona expenses so that electricity rates don't go up for Islanders. (Kirk Pennell/CBC - image credit)

The federal government has agreed to cover Maritime Electric's costs to restore power after post-tropical storm Fiona, said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

The funding will come through the Provincial-Federal Disaster Financial Assistance Program.

"The whole intent would be to make sure that the Island ratepayers aren't having to endure a significant rate increase to pick up the costs that have gone into the recovery from Fiona," King said in an interview Wednesday.

King said when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited P.E.I. after Fiona, they spoke about using this program to cover Maritime Electric's costs so that the utility's rate wouldn't go up.

"He understood completely that he didn't want to see Islanders get unfairly penalized for something that was outside of their control," he said.

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

After Fiona hit P.E.I. the night of Sept. 23, 90 per cent of the Island's electrical system lost power.

It took Maritime Electric just over three weeks to finish restoring power to all of its customers.

A spokesperson at Maritime Electric told CBC News they are still tallying the total amount that power restoration cost them.

The utility will file a report in the next couple of weeks with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission with that total dollar figure.

Ottawa, P.E.I. looking at 90-10 split under program

A provincial spokesperson said the province's claim through the disaster relief program will also include expenses for debris removal, as well as provincial infrastructure that was damaged, such as bridges and roads.

Premier King said once the final figure comes in from Maritime Electric and the other expenses are calculated, the province will submit one claim to the federal government through the program.

Under the program, the federal government pays 90 per cent of costs and the provincial government pays 10 per cent.

"Obviously there's an amount of money — whatever it will be in the end — that we will have to pay as the government of Prince Edward Island. But the bulk of it is picked up under the disaster program," said King.