Inuvik wind farm inching closer to reality

Officials with the N.W.T. Infrastructure Department say the plan is to file for a permit with the Gwich'in Land and Water Board in October.

N.W.T. government says it plans to file for project permit in October

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann was in Inuvik this week for the Arctic Energy and Emerging Technologies Conference and Tradeshow. Government officials said they plan to file for a permit with the Gwich'in Land and Water Board this fall to get a wind farm going in the town. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The Northwest Territories government could file for a permit to start a wind farm in Inuvik, N.W.T., this fall.

That's according to an update officials gave on the project during the Arctic Energy and Emerging Technologies Conference and Tradeshow in Inuvik this week.

Geraldine Byrne, manager of energy research and development with the territory's Infrastructure Department, said the plan is to file for a permit with the Gwich'in Land and Water Board in October.

A feasibility study for the project is set to wrap up shortly.

Geraldine Byrne, with the N.W.T. Infrastructure Department, spoke at the Arctic Energy and Emerging Technologies Conference and Tradeshow in Inuvik this week.

N.W.T. looks to feds for support

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann said the next step after the feasibility study is to get support from the federal government.

"Once that's completed, we are already looking at how we can get our federal partners to fund this through some infrastructure funding, which would be up to $30 million dollars," said Schumann.

"In this particular wind farm, we want to see something happening in the next couple of years."

Schumann said it makes sense to explore wind energy in the N.W.T., as the federal government is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The territorial government has also partnered with the Nihtat Gwich'in Council to monitor the wind and determine if the project would be possible in the town.

The Aurora Research Institute has been tracking long-term wind power potential in a number of Beaufort Delta communities for more than a decade. One of the best favourable spots is Inuvik High Point, which is 10 kilometres outside the town.

Schumann said the territorial government is also looking into wind projects in Norman Wells and Sachs Harbor.

Natural gas a long-term solution, says mayor

During her presentation, Byrne said Inuvik runs on 40 per cent liquified natural gas and 60 per cent diesel.

The goal of introducing wind energy to the town is for it to run on 30 per cent wind energy and decrease diesel usage by half.

Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald says natural gas could be a long-term solution for the town. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald said introducing wind energy to the town could do a lot to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, tapping into nearby natural gas resources is also vital, he said.

"The long-term solution is the natural gas sitting in the ground, which would fuel Inuvik or the North for the next hundred years quite easily," he said. "Until we develop that resource, we are going to continue to struggle."

Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway being studied

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is in the midst of conducting a feasibility study on natural gas resources in the Beaufort Delta region, mostly along the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency — or CanNor — invested $467,200 in the project last September, which was set to take about a year to complete.

With Inuvik's depleting Ikhil well, which supplies natural gas to the community, McDonald said the town has been looking into other options for some time.

"It looks like there will be some movement in the next bit on bringing on a new source," he said.

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