Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut December 10, 2013 - 6:01 am

Nunavut’s most northerly community may get new power plant by 2017

“We need to rebuild the plant in order to maintain safe, reliable power supply”

LISA GREGOIRE
The hamlet of Grise Fiord has been waiting years for the QEC to replace their run-down, 50-year-old power plant which consists of three diesel fuel generating units and one emergency unit. (PHOTO COURTESY TIMKAL/ COPYRIGHT WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)
The hamlet of Grise Fiord has been waiting years for the QEC to replace their run-down, 50-year-old power plant which consists of three diesel fuel generating units and one emergency unit. (PHOTO COURTESY TIMKAL/ COPYRIGHT WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)

The Qulliq Energy Corp. is requesting permission to spend $7.9 million on a new power plant in Grise Fiord to replace a dilapidated structure built in 1963.

That one has “numerous problems in regard to its civil, mechanical and electrical systems,” said Peter Ma, QEC’s newly-appointed president and chief executive officer, in a Dec. 6 news release.

“The infrastructure suffers from several deficiencies, including failing building foundation, unreliable superstructure and aging systems and equipment,” Ma continued.
“We need to rebuild the plant in order to maintain safe, reliable power supply for the community of Grise Fiord.”

No need to tell that to the people of Grise Fiord.

Marty Kuluguqtuq, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer, said people there have been concerned about the 50-year-old plant for a long time.

“The plant superintendent is sitting right here with me,” said Kuluguqtuq, from his office in Grise Fiord. “Yes, we have been having some power issues.”

The hamlet has already designated and rezoned an area uphill from the fuel distribution area as the site of the new plant and Kuluguqtuq said the town is behind the project.

“We’re really gung ho on it,” he said. “It’s good to get the ball rolling but I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Grise Fiord has been waiting for a power plant replacement for a long time.

In March 2013, Ron Elliot, then the MLA for Quttiktuq, complained about the state of the plant but was rebuffed by Monica Ell, then minister for QEC.

At the time, Ell said she had asked Finance Minister Keith Peterson if the government had enough money to pay for the new plant and Peterson told her, “the coffers are empty, we’re broke, and we don’t have the money.”

In the summary of the QEC’s major project permit application, the QEC said the plant was expected to last 40 years when it was built, meaning it is 20 years overdue for replacement.

It says that settlement and-or seasonal flooding has caused structural deterioration, which has lead to other problems.

For example, misalignment and vibration due to engine pad deformation require frequent parts replacement, and oil is leaking from engine block cracks.

But that’s not all.

“The community’s electricity demand has been increasing slowly with an average generation growth rate of 2.85 per cent for the last five years,” the application says. “The power plant will not be able to meet the community load requirements by 2016-17.”

Power demand will increase further, the QEC says, due to plans for a new school, wellness centre, cultural centre and hamlet office building.

A June 2010 assessment by Wardrop Engineering considered various options including upgrades and full replacement. Wardrop recommended a new plant.

According to the QEC’s application, the project is expected to commence in 2014 with possible construction to begin in 2015 for a completion in early 2017.

The project will have no impact on rates “until the time of QEC’s first General Rate Application following the project coming in-service, which is expected no earlier than the 2016-17 fiscal year,” the application says.

Under the current rate setting approach, “bill impacts for customers are estimated to be approximately 0.6 per cent in the first years of the plant coming in-service declining to 0.2 to 0.3 per cent in later years.”

As of March 2013, Cape Dorset, Qikiqtarjuaq and Taloyoak were also on the QEC priority list for power plant replacement followed by Arctic Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Gjoa Haven, Kugaaruk and Arviat.

You can read more about the QEC major project permit by following the links here.

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