GN to take over &#39c;onservation;

It's light's out for Nunavut Energy Centre

By CHRIS WINDEYER

The Qulliq Energy Corp. will pull the plug on its conservation arm, the Nunavut Energy Centre, on April 1.

But that doesn't mean the end of energy conservation programs, Bruce Rigby, Qulliq's interim president, said last week.

Instead, energy conservation work will be rolled into the Nunavut energy secretariat, part of the Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Rigby described the move as a return to Qulliq's core business, keeping the lights on.

Instead of using ratepayer money to fund conservation programs, he said it makes more sense for the Government of Nunavut to take them over and run them as public services.

"We'll still be participating as part of the Government of Nunavut's energy strategy process, and we'll still be investing in energy conservation, but it just made more sense for government services to be delivered by the government," Rigby said.

"We can then focus totally on the electricity generation side."

Many government departments and agencies, like Community and Government Services and the Nunavut Housing Corp., carry staff members whose jobs are to manage energy efficiency, Rigby said.

Hunter Tootoo, the energy minister, told MLAs about the closure March 20.

"As there are now departments and agencies of the [GN] that are offering energy conservation programs and services, the board of directors felt that the activities would best be located within the government and directed that no corporate funds are to be used for the Nunavut Energy Centre after March 31."

The move comes as the power corporation plans to delay construction of a hydroelectric project for Iqaluit for as long as three years.

Neither the power corporation nor the GN is able to borrow the money needed to build the dam – likely $100 million or more.

That's because the Nunavut Act states that the GN may not carry more than $200 million in long-term debt. The GN is already close to that debt cap, because of long-term debt inherited from the Northwest Territories.

At the same time, the global credit crunch would likely make it too difficult to line up private investors

In the meantime, Qulliq will continue feasibility studies for the project and plans to hire a director of hydroelectricity to increase the hydro expertise within the company.

Until now, Rigby said, Qulliq has been buying advice on hydro power from Manitoba Hydro.

"If we're serious about moving down this direction, we need to build our own capacity," Rigby said.

The Nunavut Energy Centre was founded in 2005 to boost energy conservation efforts in Nunavut.

The best-known effort was a push to encourage the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs to help reduce electricity consumption.

Qulliq paid for the creation of the energy centre and expected to be able to use federal money to pay for its programs. But Rigby said much of that money is no longer available.

"We're still getting bits and pieces of it, but it really doesn't amount to so much," he said. What Qulliq does get from the feds often requires so much reporting that it's not worth it, Rigby added.

As for the CFL bulbs, Qulliq will still distribute and recycle them, in co-operation with the environment department, Rigby said.

Three staff will lose their jobs in the move, but will be transferred to other government posts.

Rigby will also move on. He'll step down as interim president April 1, after serving about a year following the departure of Anne Crawford, the last permanent QEC president.

On that date, Peter Mackey, Qulliq's current director of operations and information technology, will become the corporation's permanent president.

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