Kugluktuk could displace diesel consumption by between 20 and 60 per cent through renewable energy initiatives, if federal funds are available.
The community is in line to receive a new power plant and power lines, valued at $31.4 million, in 2019, pending ministerial approval. That alone would result in a 10 per cent improvement in efficiency due to the modern technology, said Bruno Pereira, president and CEO of Qulliq Energy Corporation. The new infrastructure would be operational by 2021, by current projections.
Incorporating the full renewable solar and/or wind options could double that $31.4-million cost, making those initiatives dependent on funds from Ottawa, which is currently restructuring its renewable energy programs, according to Pereira.
“We believe that this fall there will be some greater clarity about the programs. We anticipate that if we start communicating with the program managers at that stage as we get into 2018 we’ll be able to talk a bit more concretely about what is available and what we can do,” Pereira said. “We do have the highest electricity rates in the nation. We’re trying to make sure we’re responsible in the money we do spend to try and minimize the impact on rates.”
Diesel plants remain indispensable because they provide a reliable power source, especially during the critical winter months, Pereira noted.
“We would be more than happy to not burn diesel to produce electricity and incorporate renewable energy,” he said, adding that “those (renewable) sources are intermittent sources, meaning if the sun is not shining we won’t be able to generate or if the wind is not blowing or if the wind is blowing too hard, we have to shut down the windmills… it will fluctuate depending on the season.”
If Kugluktuk produces more power than it consumes through its potential future renewable energy sources, it would receive a credit on its bill from Qulliq Energy Corporation, Pereira noted.
The existing diesel plant in Kugluktuk – which supplies 100 per cent of the community’s power currently – was built in 1968 and upgraded in 1989.
Mayor Ryan Nivingalok said he’s still awaiting details on the renewable energy options, but added that the aging power plant has continued to serve Kugluktuk reliably.
Bill Williams, Kugluktuk’s economic development officer, added that “We’re excited for the plant,” but he declined further comment.
Pereira added that other Nunavut communities have expressed interest in renewable energy opportunities and it’s not necessary for a new power plant to be installed as a condition of exploring those possibilities.