Cape Dorset still waiting on its new power plant: Joanasie
Limited power generation capacity means no new housing
Nunavut’s minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corp. says Cape Dorset will “likely” have its long-awaited new power plant by 2018.
The South Baffin MLA, David Joanasie, raised the issue Oct. 23 in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, raising the “urgent need” for a new power plant to meet the needs of the community of about 1,400 people.
“One of the challenges that Cape Dorset faces, and Premier Taptuna saw with his own eyes during his recent visit, was the fact that the current lack of power generation capacity has prevented the construction of any new housing units in recent years,” Joanasie told the legislature last week.
Cape Dorset, whose current power plant was built in 1964, is one of 17 communities across the territory due for a new plant.
But while the replacement of a new plant was approved in 2011, its construction hit a snag when the QEC was unable to secure an appropriate site to build it on.
That led to a legal dispute over a piece of land in the centre of the community which led the QEC to look at building the new plant outside the town’s core, beside its tank farm.
“Of course, that necessitated a lot of changes in planning,” QEC minister Keith Peterson told the legislature Oct. 23. “I believe the QEC officials sent an environment team in there last week to assess a new site. We’re still waiting for a report.”
But changes to the location have added time and costs to the proposed project, which is now estimated to cost over $30 million, Peterson said.
Joanasie asked about the possibility of bringing in auxiliary generators to help boost capacity in Cape Dorset in the meantime, which Peterson called “a very expensive proposition.”
“A mobile power plant or generator is in the range of $2 million to $3 million and possibly more,” Peterson said. “The Qulliq Energy Corp. is fully maxed out on its debt. We’re very strapped.
“The QEC board will have to take a very close look at the capital plan to see if that is something that can be entertained and if, in fact, it is even affordable.”