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Iqaluit MLA makes case for hydroelectric power

Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes says he hopes to see Nunavut end its dependence on diesel power plants in favour of a hydroelectric project.

George Hickes says he hopes to see the territory end its dependence on diesel

The Nunavut legislature's spring sitting began on Tuesday, May 26, and is expected to run until June 2. (CBC)

Iqaluit-Tasiluk MLA George Hickes is hoping to see Nunavut end its dependence on diesel power plants.

"I don't think it's any secret that I've been a strong proponent of moving forward on a proposed hydroelectric project near Iqaluit," he told Nunavut's legislative assembly May 27, the second day of the legislature's spring sitting.

Hickes argued the time is right for hydroelectric power and built a case on two pillars.

First, he said, the drop in world oil prices will mean more money in the territory's pocket. Second, Hickes says a recent federal increase of Nunavut's debt cap means more borrowing power for public projects.

Qulliq Energy Corporation Minister Keith Peterson said it's not that straightforward.

"We have to put business cases together for the Government of Canada to invest in Nunavut. As a government, we simply can't afford megaprojects in Nunavut," he said.

Peterson adds one delay is because authorities are considering two possible building sites.

South Baffin MLA David Joanasie said frustrated communities are stuck with aging power plants. Using Cape Dorset as an example, he said the "community has run out of patience with the endless delays."  

In September of 2014, Qulliq Energy Corporation CEO Peter Ma spoke to a legislative assembly standing committee. Then, he explained that replacing the territory's aging power plants could cost at least three times what was originally budgeted. 

A response from the standing committee to Ma's testimony is expected to be tabled during the spring sitting of the legislature, which runs until June 2. 

Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq had a different approach for the Kivalliq's power woes. 

He wants Nunavut to work out a deal to tap into Manitoba's hydroelectric power grid.

 

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