What are the opportunities to make our power more reliable, ensure we have enough for future growth (like potential mines in the area) and decrease the cost to residents and businesses?
There are a few options, in particular with evolving technology, that we should look at in the next term:
- We need to investigate the benefit to residents and businesses in putting in an application to the Public Utilities Board to create an off-peak power rate. The Snare Hydro System (Yellowknife’s power source) increasingly relies on diesel back-up power to achieve peak load requirements which adds to the cost of servicing consumer demand. With evolving battery technology, users could store electricity during non-peak power times and use power from the batteries during peak times. This would create more grid stability – reduce spikes and drops in power – meaning that we’d use less diesel (save $$ and GHG emissions).
- As battery life spans increase, work with the Arctic Energy Alliance and the GNWT to add batteries – to store electricity during non-peak power times and use power from the batteries during peak times – to the list of eligible projects to receive funding through the Alternative Energy Technology Program – as the batteries could reduce diesel use if the batteries are charging during off-peak hours. There’s also an opportunity for the City and our power franchisee to explore using batteries as well.
- Work with the GNWT, other community governments and advocacy groups (like the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, the Mining Association of Canada, etc) to gain Federal support to link the Snare grid and the Taltson grid. The connection of the two grids has been identified as a priority in the GNWT’s Energy Strategy to 2030; and closing the infrastructure gap and reducing fossil fuel dependency has been identified as challenges to focus on when the Federal government develops their Arctic Policy Framework.
From the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources “Powering Canada’s Territories”:
There are two multi-community grids: the Snare grid and the Taltson grid. Both grids are located along the Great Slave Lake but they are not linked to each other. The Snare grid serves Yellowknife and surrounding communities north of the lake with hydropower from the Snare Hydro System (30.2MW) and the Bluefish Hydro plant (7.5 MW). The Taltson grid located south of the lake is served by power from the Taltson Hydro plant (18 MW).
The Snare Hydro System increasingly relies on diesel back-up power to achieve peak load requirements which adds to the cost of servicing consumer demand.
The current NWT hydro systems increase the risk of triggering an outage if there is a problem at one of the generation stations. Yellowknife’s outage rate is roughly four times that of the rest of the country. To address this problem, the NTPC is examining if large batteries can be a cost effective means to store excess energy during low load times to be used at a later time during peak demand.
Many problems with NWT’s hydro system could be addressed if both grid systems were connected.
The advantages of NWT’s transmission expansion:
- NWT would have a reliable supply of energy in the event of outages (planned or unplanned).
- NWT could better balance and manage its loads between the two territorial grids and sell excess power to the continental grid.
- Mining companies would have reliable access to non-emitting power that could serve to extend the productive life of mines and encourage new investment. It would also reduce the consumption of diesel.
If elected Mayor, I want to work with our partners to ensure Yellowknifers have more reliable power; enough power; and cheaper power.