MRO Magazine

Summerside Electric’s Sunbank project nearing completion

October 27, 2023 | By Caitlin Coombes

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – After six years of construction, Summerside Sunbank solar field is approaching completion.

Summerside Electric anticipates the sunbank will connect to the Summerside power grid by the end of November 2023, once work on the site is completed in the coming weeks.

Beginning construction in 2016, the sunbank was intended to be completed in early 2023 but was delayed by COVID-19 and by post-tropical storm Fiona in 2022.

Greg Gaudet, municipal services director for Summerside Electric, told SaltWire on Oct. 19 that he is pleased with how the project is coming along, remaining below its $69-million budget, despite the increased cost of materials, and several procurement delays during construction.


“Procurement of items through COVID and manufacturing issues was unheard of. I’ve never gone through a project with this many procurement issues,” Gaudet said.

Summerside Electric expects the solar field to account for 22 per cent of the company’s output, which stands to bring the total amount of green energy supplied by the utility to 62 per cent.

Summerside Mayor Dan Kutcher told SaltWire he is pleased with how the sunbank project is progressing.

“There’s no question that we need to reduce the amount of carbon we are putting into the atmosphere, and we also need to make sure we are more energy independent, and this project does both of those things,” Kutcher said in a phone interview on Oct. 24.

Summerside Electric intends for the solar field to operate with the help of only three members of staff once construction is complete, except in the event of repairs or further construction.

All recent construction on the sunbank has been handled by contractors, as locally as possible, and has served as an opportunity for employment and education on solar energy infrastructure.

The sunbank sits atop Summerside’s water well field, doubling the usage of the 80 acres of formerly vacant land and providing Summerside with an increase in diverse energy sources.

“From an energy security perspective, you want to have a diverse mix that has as little impact as possible on the environment, and this does both of those,” Kutcher said.

In the future, Summerside Electric plans to build a boardwalk and observation tower along the southern shoreline of the sunbank, intended to encourage visitors to engage with and learn about both solar energy in general, and the energy production of Summerside.

“Anything that gets people out walking and exploring nature is great, but also the opportunity to see the sunbank project with your own eyes, it’ll offer a great vantage point to showcase a fantastic project in our community,” Kutcher said.

The boardwalk will be built within the buffer zone designed during the construction of the sunbank, 75 meters of trees between the edge of the solar field and the wetland shore, measured to account for coastal erosion occurring within the lifetime of the project and storm surge.

By Caitlin Coombes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, THE GUARDIAN


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