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New power plant approved for Arctic Bay

The minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation has approved a new Arctic Bay power plant project in Nunavut, something the corporation says is sorely needed.

Qulliq Energy Corporation cited aging infrastructure, safety concerns in project application

The hamlet of Arctic Bay, Nunavut, in August 2019. The territorial minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corporation has approved a new power plant project in the community. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

A proposal for a new power plant in Arctic Bay, Nunavut, has been approved — something the Qulliq Energy Corporation says is sorely needed.

In a news release Wednesday, Jeannie Ehaloak, the minister responsible for the energy corporation, said she was "pleased to approve the replacement project request." 

"Our efforts are focused on delivering safe, reliable, affordable energy to our customers by replacing infrastructure that has exceeded its intended life span," Bruno Pereira, the corporation's president and chief executive officer, is quoted as saying in the release.

The energy corporation had submitted an application for the major project permit in November 2019. It says the existing Arctic Bay power plant was built in 1974 and has 620 kilowatts installed firm capacity. The peak demand of the hamlet  in 2017-18 was 678 kilowatts. 

While the current estimated population of the hamlet is 904, that's projected to grow to 1,138 by 2036, according to the energy corporation.

Doing nothing not an option

In its application, the corporation said it could not expand the capacity of the current power plant because of a lack of space and poor infrastructure conditions. It also cited safety concerns and the need to comply with environmental regulations. 

"This situation places the community at great risk of [Qulliq Energy Corporation] not being able to supply safe, reliable power to the community," the application reads. 

Bruno Pereira, the president and CEO of the Qulliq Energy Corporation, says the corporation is focused on 'delivering safe, reliable, affordable energy.' (Alex Brockman/CBC)

"The existing plant deficiencies mean the 'Do Nothing' option is not a viable option." 

The corporation says the new plant, which will be built 1.2 kilometres outside of the community, will generate much less noise and air pollution. It's expected to have a life cycle of 40 years and be capable of integrating renewable energy sources. 

It is estimated completion of the project will cost about $32 million, but the corporation expects 75 per cent of expenses will be funded by the Arctic Energy Fund Program.

The energy corporation anticipates construction of the plant will take place from 2020 to 2023.

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