North

Nunavut's power generators need replacing, says Senate report

A Senate standing committee report examining energy use in Canada's three territories identified Nunavut's aging power plants as a major issue in the region.

Report, released yesterday, looks at energy use in all three territories

Nunavut's power plants are in desperate need of replacement, with 14 of 25 having reached the end of their life expectancies, according to a Senate report. (Vincent Desrosiers/CBC)

A Senate standing committee has released a new report looking at energy systems in Canada's three territories — one that's shedding light on the dire state of Nunavut's power generators.

The nine-member Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which included Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson and N.W.T. Senator Nick Sibbeston, released a 64-page document based on more than a year of research across the North.

The committee found that 14 of Nunavut's 25 power generators are at the end of their useful life. Two more generators, in Chesterfield Inlet and Gjoa Haven, are within 3 years of the end of their plant life expectancy.

"In most communities, diesel generation is the only viable option for reliable base load power and will likely continue to be so for some time," read the report. "That being said, having such a large fleet of diesel facilities operating past their life expectancy requires [Qulliq Energy Corporation] to commit large portions of capital spending to replacing components and making upgrades to extend operating parameters.

"Acquiring parts for these plants is a constant challenge. An aging facility increases the risk of power outages and, if a winter outage occurs, extensive damage can result due to freezing." 

Last fall, then Qulliq Energy Corporation president Peter Ma said replacing Nunavut's aging power plants would likely cost about $15 million each — three times more than what was originally budgeted.

Audits for Qulliq Energy Corporation are currently under RCMP investigation for criminal wrongdoing.

The committee recommended that the federal government "should contribute, in some way, to help advance territorial energy projects.

"This could take the form of a federal infrastructure funding program for qualified territorial energy projects that promote cleaner air and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

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