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Nunavut power plant plans surge ahead with a focus on efficiency

Chesterfield Inlet’s 46-year-old plant can’t meet future needs
Chesterfield Inlet’s current power plant, seen here, is beyond its life expectancy. Qulliq Energy Corporation is planning to replace it in the next few years. The public is invited to take part in the review by Nunavut’s Utility Rates Review Council, which will be taking feedback until Feb. 25. Photo courtesy of Qulliq Energy Corporation

There’s no room for growth with Chesterfield Inlet’s aging and decaying power plant, which is why Qulliq Energy Corporation is moving forward on plans to replace it with a state-of-the-art facility.

The current power plant is more than 46 years old and has several deficiencies, including an unreliable structure, aging systems and an obsolete switchgear that requires replacement.

“The building structure itself is in very poor condition and there’s no room for expansion,” said Rick Hunt, president and CEO of QEC. “Even if we wanted to increase capacity in Chester, we physically can’t do it. The building is not big enough to put a new gen-set in there.”

The project is part of a series of power plant replacements across Nunavut, thanks in part to the federal government’s $175 million infusion for the Arctic Energy Fund.

“All of our power plants that we’re building under the Arctic Energy Fund are going to be ready for integration with renewables in the future,” added Hunt.

Even though QEC is building diesel power plants, the new ones, including Chesterfield Inlet’s, will not only be more fuel efficient but ready to take on any renewable energy sources in the community.

The existing power plant uses a three-generator lineup, and the new one will add a fourth, establishing a layer of reliability to its operations.

Another change QEC is proposing with the new power plant is moving its location from the current centre of town to just outside of town, linked directly to its fuel source at the Petroleum Products Division facility. That’s the energy corporation’s strategy with all of its future power plants, rather than needing trucked fuel delivery several times a week.

“You can have the best equipment in the world (and) still have leaks from those fuel trucks into the equipment,” said Hunt, adding there would be a direct line from the Petroleum Products Division facility to the plant.

He didn’t want to put an exact number on the price of the new plant because it would be going out to tender, but said the proposed budget is around $35 million, comparable to the recently finished plant in Arctic Bay.

The plan is to have the design in place for 2023-24, construction done in 2024-25 and the finished product in 2026 to serve the community of approximately 450 people.

But first, the project needs approval from the minister responsible for QEC and to pass Nunavut’s Utility Rates Review Council.

The public is invited to provide feedback to the council by emailing until Feb. 25.