North

N.W.T. Power Corp. mulls rate hike as generators roar

Low water levels at the Snare Lake Hydro facility have forced the N.W.T. Power Corp. to runs its diesel generators in Yellowknife for much of the last eight months. It's costing tens of thousands of dollars a day.

Diesel generators have made up for low water levels for much of the past 8 months

Yellowknife's Jeremy Studney says a power rate hike could send people out of the territory. 'The cost of living here is way too high.' (CBC)

Yellowknifers may soon have to pay more to power their homes.

Low water levels at the Snare Lake Hydro facility, about 140 kilometres east of Yellowknife, have forced the N.W.T. Power Corp. to runs its diesel generators in Yellowknife for most of the last eight months. It's costing tens of thousands of dollars a day.

Last year, the power corporation applied for a two-year rate hike following one of the driest summers in decades. The idea sparked outrage from consumers, and in late September, the government announced it would borrow $20 million to cover the cost.

In a statement last week, the minister responsible for the power corporation said the government can't keep subsidizing power. It's currently deliberating on whether to apply for a power rate hike.

Hydroelectric dams provide 75 per cent of the territory's power, leaving it vulnerable in a drought. (CBC)
Hydroelectric dams provide 75 per cent of the territory's power.

"The water levels are, if not at historic lows, very, very low," said Michael Miltenberger back in March. "We've got to track that impact on potential costs to rates."

At that time, water levels in Great Slave Lake were about 10 centimetres below 2014 levels, which were already 10 centimetres below average. 

'I think people are going to end up leaving'

If a power rate hike goes into effect, at least one person says it will force more people out of the capital.

"The cost of living here is way too high," says Jeremy Studney. "I think people are going to end up leaving."

Studney has already re-insulated his home to save on heat. He's started hanging his clothes to dry and turning off the lights as much as possible to save on power.

"We try to do everything and in the summertime, we still had a $300 bill. For what? The furnace isn't on."

Moving away, he says, is another option.

"We are considering it ourselves."

A power rate hike would have to be approved by the public utilities board before going into effect. 

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