Overview of Electricity Sector

As Canada’s northernmost and least populous territory, Nunavut has no territorial electricity grid nor is there inter-community road access. It is also the only jurisdiction in Canada without developed local energy resources. Consequently, electricity systems are isolated and must be planned and operated independently [i]. The Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) is Nunavut’s public electricity utility and the only generator, transmitter and distributor of electrical energy in the territory. It owns and operates 26 stand-alone diesel plants in 25 communities. At this time, diesel serves as the only source of electricity generation as there has been virtually no penetration of renewable energy technologies [ii].

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Due to its dependence on imported diesel, the territory faces several challenges. First, electricity prices in are far higher than in the provinces and must be substantially subsidized to 30.15 cents per kilowatt-hour by the Nunavut government [iii]. Second, as of 2014, approximately 17 generating plants had reached the end of their designed service life and the replacement of generating capacity and plant decommissioning are anticipated to be very costly. Further, reliance on an ageing fleet in a climate as harsh as northern Canada’s increases the risk of power outages, which can cause extensive infrastructural damage and pose serious threats threat to the health and safety of communities [iv].

[i] Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, 2014. Powering Canada’s Territories.http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/412/enev/rep/rep14jun15-e.pdf

[ii] Qulliq Energy Corporation, n.d. About Us., http://www.qec.nu.ca/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=32

[iii] National Energy Board, 2011. Energy Use in Canada’s North: An Overview of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut – Energy Facts, https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/nrg/ntgrtd/mrkt/archive/2011nrgsncndnrthfct/nrgsncndnrthfct-eng.html

[iv] Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, 2014. Powering Canada’s Territories.http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/412/enev/rep/rep14jun15-e.pdf

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