Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut January 07, 2014 - 7:56 am

Nunavut power utility chair, five directors quit over GN interference

GN removes Iqaluit hydro items from QEC’s budget

Simon Merkosak, now the ex-chair of the Qulliq Energy Corp., in an undated file photo. (FILE PHOTO)
Simon Merkosak, now the ex-chair of the Qulliq Energy Corp., in an undated file photo. (FILE PHOTO)

Simon Merkosak, chair of the Qulliq Energy Corp. board and five of six remaining QEC directors called it quits Jan. 6, saying the Government of Nunavut is running roughshod over the QEC board’s independence.

Merkosak conveyed this information in a letter to Premier Peter Taptuna and Paul Okalik, the minister responsible for the QEC. (See document embedded below.)

Merkosak, who runs a construction business in Pond Inlet, has served on QEC’s board since 2002 and as chair since 2005.

In the letter, they say the GN is now acting in a way that may make the QEC’s board unnecessary.

“The newly elected Government seems intent on bringing the Corporation closer to a government department, which neither requires nor would benefit from an independent board, and appears at odds with accepted Canadian practices for regulated electric utilities,” Merkosak said in a news release.

As examples, Merkosak said the new government has made some big decisions about the QEC recently without consulting the corporation’s board.

That includes the recent firing of Peter Mackey, the QEC’s president and CEO.

“This was a clear indication that the Government of Nunavut has a different view from the Board. Any rationale for taking this action could, and should, have been discussed with the Board of Directors in advance of taking action,” the news release said.

The GN also deleted items from the QEC’s 2014-15 budget that would have paid for work on its proposed Iqaluit hydroelectric project — without consulting the board.

Merksosak and the resigning QEC board members defended the Iqaluit hydro proposal in their announcement, saying that after introduction of uniform territorial-wide power rates, the Iqaluit hydro plant could reduce fossil fuel dependence and create more stable power rates across Nunavut.

“The proposed Iqaluit Hydro Project at Jaynes Inlet has long-term benefits for Iqaluit and under territorial rates, Nunavummiut, by significantly reducing the dependence on fossil fuel, providing rate stability, and providing needed employment and trades training opportunities during project construction.”

A third complaint is the GN is erasing the arms-length relationship between the corporation and the territorial government.

“Most public utilities across Canada operate in an arm’s length relationship from government, as exemplified in our sister territories with respect to the Northwest Territories Power Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.”

At full strength, the QEC’s board usually consisted of 10 members — a mixture of Nunavut residents and members with executive experience at electrical power utilities across Canada.

As of Jan. 6, the board consisted of seven members, including Merkosak.

Only one board member remains. Right now, it’s not clear who that is.

  Simon Merkosak's Jan. 6 announcement of his resignation from the chairmanship of Qulliq Energy Corp.'s boar…



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