Most of Nunavut's power plants need replacing, says Qulliq Energy Corporation

Qulliq Energy Corporation says Pangnirtung's power plant that was destroyed by fire last year is at the top of its replacement list along with the aging plants in Cape Dorset, Grise Fiord and Cambridge Bay.
The Qulliq Energy Corporation power plant in Iqaluit. (CBC)

The Qulliq Energy Corporation says Pangnirtung's power plant that was destroyed by fire last year is at the top of its replacement list along with the aging plants in Cape Dorset, Grise Fiord and Cambridge Bay.

Insurance will cover the cost of replacing Pangnirtung's plant. The others fall on QEC.

"Replacement for those ones would have to go through our board because it is ultimately the ratepayer who pays for the power plant," said Jamie Flaherty, acting president of QEC.

"QEC, we don't get funding from the government, it's through our rate base, so we are trying to build at least one a year."

QEC says plants in Taloyoak and Qikiqtarjuaq are currently being constructed, while plans for the other four mentioned are under way.

QEC says, in total, 17 communities are in desperate need of new energy infrastructure. 

Iqaluit's power plant is QEC's most efficient and up-to-date facility, but city officials say it's an unsustainable situation. Like every community in Nunavut, it remains completely dependent on diesel-powered generators for its electricity.

"While we have upgraded our power plant it is very expensive, not sustainable," said Mayor Madeleine Redfern.

"It's subject to the fluctuations of fuel prices in the world and it's not the most environmentally-friendly approach."

Flaherty says QEC is exploring alternative energy options. It just received $100,000 from Ottawa for a wind power feasibility study and it is planning to install some solar panels.

"We are doing mapping across the territory on wind mapping," he said.

"We are also doing a study on solar that we just started and we are also doing studies on different kinds of lighting and how much we could cut down on costs and diesel."

Flaherty said the wind feasibility study should be completed by the end of March.

He said QEC's Iqaluit hydroelectric project remains on hold because of a lack of funding from both the federal and Nunavut governments.

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