N.W.T. Power Corp. eyes Taltson hydro system expansion to Saskatchewan

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is in talks with SaskPower, Saskatchewan's main power utility, about expanding N.W.T.'s Taltson hydro system to Uranium City, Sask.

Territory looks to cash in on province's plans to rely more on renewable energy

The South Valley spillway on the Taltson River. The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is in talks with SaskPower, Saskatchewan's main power utility, about expanding N.W.T.'s Taltson hydro system to Uranium City, Sask. (N.W.T. Power Corporation )

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is in talks with SaskPower, Saskatchewan's main power utility, about expanding N.W.T.'s Taltson hydro system to Uranium City, Sask.

"Saskatchewan now is committed to reach 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030," said Louis Sebert, the minister in the charge of the power corporation, in the legislative assembly recently.

"They will need 1,100 megawatts of generation. So this has opened an opportunity for us."

Sebert estimated the Taltson hydro plant, located about 64 kilometres north of Fort Smith, could provide Saskatchewan with up to 200 megawatts of power.

Fort Smith is located about 200 kilometres from Uranium City, though no roads connect the two communities. 

The expansion would not come cheap. 

"The likely cost of the project would probably be over $500 million, perhaps between that and a billion dollars," said Sebert.

"That is a pretty hefty price tag," said Rocky Simpson, the MLA for Hay River North.

Sebert said the territorial government is considering a scenario where the Saskatchewan government would pay "a considerable portion" of the cost of the expansion.

"I think if we move ahead further with Saskatchewan that likely we will be approaching the federal government" for additional support, Sebert added.

It's not the first scheme aimed at maximizing Taltson's value. In 2011, the power corporation abandoned a plan to run transmission lines from the Taltson dam to the territory's three diamond mines, citing disinterest from diamond mining companies.

The Taltson dam currently provides power to Fort Smith, Hay River, Fort Resolution and Enterprise through 200 kilometres of transmission lines to the communities.

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