Northland Utilities Limited was awarded a five-year extension to its franchise agreement with the City of Yellowknife after council passed the document at third reading of a special council meeting, Tuesday.
Darin Smith, manager at Northland Utilities said the company was pleased to be able to serve the city again with the extension from the last 10 years.
“It’s fantastic news for everyone at Northland Utilities and we are thankful and humbled for renewing franchise for the next five years,” Smith said.
“Going forward NUL will put our best effort into providing customer safety and reliable power and electricity at affordable rate in years to come.”
Smith said that the next step for NUL is to apply to the Northwest Territories Public Utilities Board to give their final assent and to make sure the agreements serves the best interest of ratepayers in Yellowknife and Ndilo.
Sharolynn Woodward, director of corporate services with the City of Yellowknife explained last month that the agreement means that NUL “gets the exclusive right to distribute electricity within the city and gets “access to city lands to construct, maintain and operate the related assets.”
“In return, the company pays the city a franchise fee for these rights, which, (NUL) collects from its customers,” she said, adding that in 2019, the city collected $1.2 million from the fee.
Northwest Territories Power Corporation
The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) will bid when the contract comes up again in 2025.
“NTPC has made it clear that the corporation is interested in pursuing franchise opportunities when they become available,” spokesperson Doug Prendergast stated.
Prendergast pointed out that NTPC is the current provider of electricity for 25 communities in the Northwest Territories and is expecting to own the Hay River franchise in the not-too-distant future.
“A process to transfer the franchise from Northland Utilities (NWT) Ltd. has been underway for the past several years,” he stated. “NTPC has spoken publicly about its ambitious capital program over the next several years. Major infrastructure is aging and requires either refurbishment or replacement. Projects such as the overhaul of the hydro units at Snare Forks and Taltson as well as the construction of new plants in thermal communities have already been announced.”
Prendergast stated that aging infrastructure receives investment from the federal government to reduce heavy costs faced by customers.
Federal investments in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure may not have direct impact on the franchise agreements themselves, but will help with delivery of electricity needs, he stated.
“However, we expect to see improvements in system reliability as a result of our capital plan, which may encourage communities not currently served by NTPC to consider opening their franchise to a competitive bidding process,” he stated.