Kugaaruk is entering phase two of its $1.3-million, three-year community energy plan, which will kick off rounds of community consultations. That will be followed by a request for proposals to find a renewable energy company to offer expertise.
“It's quite a big project that we're taking on here,” said Alex Ittimangnaq, the hamlet's economic development officer.
Solar panels and a wind turbine are sources of power that will be explored, he said.
Solar panels have sat atop Kugaaruk's arena for close to three years but they've never been in use because they slightly exceed Qulliq Energy Corporation's maximum of 10 kilowatts of renewable energy annually through the net-metering program.
“It's off by two kilowatts but that's the issue there,” Ittimangnaq explained. “That's been the biggest hurdle.”
The community is consulting with a contractor to overcome that barrier. When operational, the solar panels will power the community freezer, which is located next to the ice rink.
The funding for Kugaaruk's community energy program is coming through Natural Resources Canada's 2020 Catalyst Program and from the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative.
“I'm really excited about the next two or three years,” said Ittimangnaq. “The goal is to use less diesel in our communities... it will bring down our operating costs of buildings.”