Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut’s premier and environment minister, speaks in the legislature on Thursday, Feb. 27, about initiatives to reduce carbon emissions. (Photo by Meagan Deuling)

Nunavut residents need to do their part in reducing carbon emissions, says premier

New programs in the works aimed at helping residents reduce carbon footprints

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Government of Nunavut is taking steps to curb the territory’s carbon emissions, but residents need to play a part as well by changing their behaviour, says Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut’s premier and environment minister.

“Nunavummiut demand to have gasoline and diesel at their disposal; Nunavummiut want to drive several vehicles in a household,” he said during question period on Thursday, Feb. 27.

“We allow it—the government can’t legislate out of it.”

Savikataaq was responding to a question from Adam Lightstone, MLA for Iqaluit-Manirajak, about what the GN is doing to encourage Nunavummiut to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through tax credits and rebate or incentive programs.

Savikataaq referred to the net-metering program, which went into effect in 2018, that allows individual households or municipalities to add solar panels or other sources of renewable energy to buildings and sell surplus electricity back to the grid.

“I do understand that net metering is available,” Lightstone said. “But it’s not easy. And today as far as I know no one has actually been able to accomplish taking advantage of the net-metering program.”

In fact, as of Jan. 17, 10 applications for net metering were approved, according to a spokesperson from the Qulliq Energy Corp. Six of those applications are from municipalities and four are residential. All of the municipal systems are installed and hooked up to the grid, but only one of the residential projects is currently installed, while the rest are under construction.

The spokesperson could not say how much diesel is currently being offset by the seven net-metering projects that are currently hooked up to the grid, but did say that the energy corp. is developing a program for institutional customers to apply for net metering as well.

In addition to the net-metering program, the Nunavut Housing Corp. has a funding program for home or business owners to buy solar panels or wind turbines to add to their buildings. Lightstone has been critical in the past about how it’s difficult for some residents to tap this program.

Last summer the federal government instituted its carbon tax, which increases the cost of, among other things, gasoline for vehicles and heating fuel for homes. Carbon tax revenue that is raised in the territory is being passed back to the GN, which has introduced a rebate to lessen the tax’s impact on Nunavummiut, Savikataaq said.

Qulliq Energy Corp. also announced a plan in the fall sitting of the legislative assembly to use money from the carbon tax to install LED lightbulbs in streetlights across the territory, reasoning that it’s a carbon-friendly investment because LED bulbs will use less diesel than incandescent ones.

The GN is planning to spend some carbon tax revenue on developing additional programs to lower the territory’s carbon emissions, Savikataaq said.

“So those projects are coming in proposals from any department within the government,” he said. “But this is very new, and we’re just working on it.”

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Qikiqtaalumiu on

    finally someone is listening to hwat people are saying better late then never.I am a big supporter of our environment and sustainability which was the goal and still need to be.the price of what we what is the price of what environment gets. We need to fully support the sustainability of energy by using the wind/water and sea=best power source=environmentally friendly,if we can get the right people in place today than tomorrow can be saved.

  2. Posted by Northern Guy on

    So how about the government focus on modernizing the clapped out and inefficient diesel generators that Nunavut inherited from the NWT at division? That would go way farther toward reducing NU’s carbon footprint than the mythical net metering program.

    • Posted by James on

      Exactly maybe people can go without power and heat for 1 week a month and that would bring down emmissions. Hahaha just a stupid statement by the premier. What a joke!!! Maybe one Honda and no skidoos for each family too…..dumb dumb dumb what the premier is saying

  3. Posted by Consistency on

    I would really like to know more on the residential owners that have applied and set up the Net metering. Where do they live… how well does it actually work? How large and what kind of system to make it worth while? what upfront costs are required to even make it an option?

    • Posted by inooya on

      I would say no residential home owner in Nunavut have applied or received the Net metering program because of one simple thing. Winter. Net metering is useless in the winter because most of the communities in Nunavut have 4 or less hours of sun or daylight in the winter. Some communities have no light for a few months. Net metering would be a waste of money that would show no profit to a home owner at all

      • Posted by Andy on


      • Posted by Consistency on

        In the article it says that 4 residential applications were made and one installed.
        Also with idea that we get less sun is not correct.
        Quick google search says: Places on the Arctic Circle have the longest total annual daytime of 4647 hours, while the North Pole receives 4575. The Equator has the total daytime of 4422 hours per year.

        If we collect energy in the summer then that is less diesel that is needed then and available during the dark season.

        • Posted by Light≠Energy on

          You are on the Internet, use it.
          “Latitude also has a major impact on solar system production. Systems installed at higher latitudes will yield lower production numbers throughout the year due to the tilt of the earth as it spins on its axis.”

          • Posted by Consistency on

            I understand that but there is someone that has set up the net metering system and I wonder how well it works in the real world. And solar panels have gotten more efficient and appliances and house lighting uses less power then they did even 20 years ago. so if solar panels are not a good option yet, how close are they? would be interesting to know with out spending all my money to find out it.

  4. Posted by Putuguk on

    Any person, organization or company in Nunavut that owns and operates a building such as a home, rental property or place of business has already paid around 2.5 times the average southern cost to buy, install and provide for heat and electricity in that building.

    In order for someone to consider buying, installing and operating an alternative electrical or heating source (over and above what you have already) there has to be a financial incentive.

    Under GN Net metering, the only incentive you have for buying, installing and operating an alternative power supply is your ability to reduce your public utility bill and/or receive an account credit for contributing more electricity to the local system than you pulled out.

    As basic electrical service is subsidized already in Nunavut, it would take many, many years for a building owner to receive a financial benefit from such a scheme. That is why there has not been wholesale adoption of Net Metering since it was first offered.

    Everywhere else in Canada besides Nunavut, provinces and municipalities provide rebates to building operators to defray the cost of buying and installing alternative power and heating systems. These rebates dramatically increase the financial incentive involved because it reduces the cost of initial investment.

    It is these sorts of rebates in southern Canada and across North America that have driven dramatic and meaningful private investment in solar and wind capacity. This is also why alternative solar power is currently stalled in the US, as tariffs imposed on cheaper Chinese panels have driven up the initial capital cost too much.

    Net metering alone will not do it. Nunavut seriously needs to create and fund a decent alternative power and heat rebate program.

    • Posted by Dam on

      A few years ago the QEC proposed the idea of building a (or two) dam to create turbine power as an alternative for the Iqaluit diesel power plant. I believe the first consultations with the public impacted by a dam shut this initiative down quickly

      • Posted by Hunter on

        Studies were done, sites were identified with site options around Frobisher Bay. A Hydro electric dam would significantly reduce the GN’s budget by 1/3 on diesel fuels for their Iqaluit operations. It’s past time for the GN and the Feds (Liberal or Conservative) to put their money where their mouths are! We all know politicians are great at listening to their own voices, making promises they have no intention keeping, but not following up on realistic and practical projects that have any serious impact.

        Small community Hydro electric micro-dams could be built and set up in communities that have good running rivers, while also mitigating the impacts on fish (fishways) and the environment as is already done throughout the country.

        There are plenty of solid ideas on how to reduce our carbon footprint, but do not expect POLITICIANS to have any practical or cost effective answers, without a lot of empty political sound bites while sticking their greedy hands in your pockets for more of your hard earned paycheck!

  5. Posted by Global Bunny on

    Well, how about replacing all the dirty QEC Diesel generating plants run throughout Nunavut? Why should you ask residents to do your job for you. Individual carbon footprints are negligible compared to NAM towns and GN operations. How about airlines reducing their usage of Jet A fuels? Ocean vessels are the biggest polluters in the world, go after these entities, not families.

  6. Posted by Putuguk on

    Some very simple measures in Nunavut can reduce our carbon footprint.

    Municipal potable water systems including pipelines, pump-houses, treatment plants, trucking, and sewage removal all together have a significant carbon footprint. This all infrastructure at work takes diesel powered electricity, diesel powered boilers and motive diesel to give us fresh water.

    It is amazing today in many Nunavut households, including public housing units, that you still see top loading clothes washers. Front loading washers can use around 13 gallons (50L) less water per load. Keep in mind our trucked water systems are only designed to provide us with 110L of water per person per day and you will see how significant that difference in water use is.

    In southern Canada, in places that have much cheaper and essentially unlimited piped water, household economics have still driven the transition away from top loaders. But not here.

    Why? Top loading washers are cheaper. Also in public housing units in Nunavut, residents do not pay for the water bill. If they use more, it has no financial consequence. Therefore the main thing that drives the sale and use of top loaders is initial price. If the GN had a rebate program for front loading washers just this would mean water use would go down big time. Therefore, carbon emissions would go down.

    You would get the side benefits of not having municipal water supplies being sucked dry as fast, better hygiene, and ever increasing capital costs to build and operate bigger public water systems for our growing population.

    • Posted by Gobble Gobble on

      Let’s not forget how much energy is being wasted by incredibly poor housing upkeep of public and employee units. So many units still actually have wood-frame (!!) windows, that are probably at least 40 years old and leaking cold air into units at incredible rates. That, combined with old heating systems that don’t distribute heat properly throughout the units, means that some rooms get very warm while others are still cold. If you’re in one of these units, there’s really only one solution, just do a drive around any town and see how many open windows there are when it’s -40 outside.

  7. Posted by pissed off on

    Global bunny where do you get these crazy ideas ?

    Airlines reducing their use of jet fuel???

    Nobody is going to make special airplanes for Nunavut
    Nobody will come up with special ships to get the sealift up here.

    Only the people of Nunavut can reduce their fuel consumption by using less vehicles, boats Atvs or snowmobiles. Are they ready to do that? I seriously doubt it.

    You want to do something, fine but go after the right target.

    A number of comments have been made about the old gaz guzzlers that power all the communities.
    A number of companies in the South will be happy to provide the communities with containerized , portable fuel efficient units to provide power to the communities.
    No need for expensive power plants , never ending engineering expenses.
    The majoirity of the communities do not require any more power than one time events, remote projects or mines that use these portable units.
    Cheap to purchase or lease, easy to ship up. easy to ship back south when it is the time to refurbish.

    That`s where the easiest savings are.

    Thank you

  8. Posted by Northern Fender on

    Hey, how about the GN employees not drive home for lunch every day at noon causing congestion and idling vehicles? Thats an easy fix for the government!

Comments are closed.