Canada’s Northwest Territories unveils ambitious energy plan

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

The government in Canada’s Northwest Territories has unveiled a grand plan for the N.W.T.’s energy future.

The plan aims to lower the cost of energy and replace diesel-generated power with renewable energy, but it’s an expensive vision, and one that will take decades to realize, if it’s realized at all.

The linchpin of the plan is linking the territory’s two hydro grids -- the Snare and the Taltson.

The Snare grid currently serves Yellowknife, Dettah, N’Dilo and Behchoko. The Taltson grid serves Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Hay River and Enterprise.

Connecting the two will bring communities such as Fort Providence and Kakisa into the grid.

Adding new transmission lines south would allow the corporation to sell power to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The price tag is an estimate $600 million at this point.

In the meantime, over the next three years the corporation is going to work on smaller goals.

Fifty-five electric hot water heaters in some of the most remote communities will be replaced this year with oil-fired heaters, at a cost of $400,000. More than $1 million is budgeted for a solar array to supplement diesel power generation in Colville Lake. And the government of the Northwest Territories hopes to link Whati to the Snare grid at a cost of $3 million.

The territorial government is currently seeking an increase in its federal borrowing limit to speed up expansion of its hydro system.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.