A lone windmill in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, which is expected to produce enough energy to cut the community’s dependence on diesel fuel in half, is virtually closed.
On September 29, Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) and Nunavut Nukkiksautiit Corporation (NNC) are expected to sign an agreement for the energy corporation to purchase the electricity generated by the windmill.
The signing is important because it is the first time that the QEC will agree to buy electricity from an independent supplier. But it also represents a major policy change in Nunavut, paving the way for other renewable energy projects to be built and their electricity sold to the territorial energy corporation.
As CBC reported in November 2022, disagreements between NNC and QEC stalled the Sanikiluaq wind project, formally known as the Anuriqjuak Nukkiksautiit Project, because QEC never had a policy on purchasing electricity from independent producers. The Sanikiluaq project has been underway since 2016.
NNC director Heather Shilton said at the time that QEC would not engage with her group because it lacked such a policy.
In a recent interview with Breaking:, Shilton did not elaborate on the deal for the Sanikiluaq project until it is signed next week. But he said QEC received ministerial approval in autumn 2022 to accept applications under its independent power producers programme.
“We applied for the program and have been talking to them since then about the project in Sanikiluaq,” Shilton said.
“We’ve been chatting with them for the last 10 to 12 months, I would say, now that they have approval to accept applications.”
QEC declined CBC’s request for an interview about the new political direction because it wanted to issue a press release first.
Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok, the minister responsible for QEC, also declined to comment on the ministerial decision behind the new QEC policy until the signing ceremony in Sanikiluaq.
In its presentation to the Nunavut Impact Review Board in 2021, NNC highlighted that the project (if successful) could be a catalyst for other communities in the territory.
“The project will demonstrate how community-scale renewable energy projects can be safely integrated with the local power grid. It will enhance the grid by providing a backup power source when diesel generators must be offline,” NNC wrote in its report. presentation.
“Nunavut needs to transition from diesel to sustainable energy systems. Renewable energy generation not only makes environmental sense, it also provides economic opportunities for Inuit.”
Advances in technology and ownership participation
The windmill is expected to produce one megawatt of energy, with one megawatt hour of battery storage for the community of 1,000 people.
Shilton acknowledged some of the challenges behind a windmill, including icing and low temperatures, but pointed to other successful projects in Inuit Nunangat.
“A lot of that has been mitigated in the last two decades due to the maturation of wind technology,” Shilton said. “You can get cold climate packages for wind turbines, you can get heating inside the blades. So we can offer a wind turbine in arctic conditions for 12 months of the year.”
Shilton said his data shows the wind is stronger in the winter and noted the project could be combined with solar panels to harness peak-hour power year-round.
The project, which also requires a six kilometer access road, is expected to create 15 local jobs during construction and have three local jobs operating the windmill once it is completed.
“This is a big project. As you can imagine, we are a community that has nothing,” said Ron Ladd, a senior administrative official for Sanikiluaq, adding that Hamlet has an agreement with NCC for an ownership stake in the project.
Ladd said any proceeds will go into a fund, where the community will decide what to do with it.
“We’re not a decentralized community, so we don’t have those 50 or 60 good government jobs here. So having an agreement in place is pretty much one of the only mechanisms we have to get some money.”