Electricity in Nunavut

A look at the electricity grid in Nunavut.
Nunavut relies on 27 stand-alone diesel generators to supply power for the whole territory. Energy costs are among the highest in the country and range from 52.39 ¢/kWh to 102.71 ¢/kWh. (Robert Gillies/Associated Press)


Avg. price: 74.9¢kWh

2010 capacity: 54.3 MW

2020 forecast capacity: 75 MW

Cross-border trade:0

Peak use: 15 MW

Much like the Northwest Territories, electricity generation in Nunavut is a local concern; there is no long-distance transmission network of any kind. Twenty-seven stand-alone diesel generators supply power to some 25 communities.

The publicly owned utility, Qulliq Energy Corporation, notes that the territory is the only region in Canada with no developed local energy resources, importing all of the fossil fuels used in its generators — an expensive process due to shipping and storage costs.

Electricity prices can vary dramatically depending on geographic location, and are among the highest in the country. According to Qulliq's rate schedule, residential energy costs range from 52.39 ¢/kWh in the capital, Iqaluit, to 102.71 ¢/kWh in Kugaaruk.

A $500 fuel rebate for homeowners has not been renewed this year, a sign that increasing energy costs are going to continue to be a burden in the region. However the territory's Fuel Stabilization Rider charge on each kWh of electricity has dropped from 12.52¢/kWh in 2009 to its current rate of 4.68¢/kWh, something which should help alleviate that burden in the short-term for consumers.

The territory has been engaging in a modest expansion plan, which includes increasing capacity at plants in Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet and a new 25 kV distribution grid in Iqaluit, expected to be ready in 2012. Though there is some potential for renewable development — particularly with hydro power — a National Energy Board report notes that large-scale projects are not economically feasible.

Qulliq is considering a hydroelectric plant on Jaynes Inlet, which would serve Iqaluit. However, a Conference Board of Canada study notes that a shift to green energy in Nunavut is in the planning stage.

In 2009 the territory was the last provincial or territorial distinction in Canada to join the Climate Registry, which is the first step towards tracking greenhouse gas emissions. Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak has said the reduction of greenhouse gases is a goal of the Nunavut government.

With files from Raf Brusilow