Manitoba-Nunavut hydro link is economically viable: study – by Sarah Rogers (Nunatsiaq News – October 6, 2015)

Report calls for next study on $904-million electrical power network

A new study commissioned by the Kivalliq Inuit Association says a project connecting Nunavut’s Kivalliq region to Manitoba’s electrical power grid is economically viable, environmentally beneficial, and should move forward without delay.

The estimated cost of the project, which would extend transmission lines north from Churchill, Man. up the western Hudson Bay coast, is about $904 million, says the new scoping study, prepared for the KIA by engineering firm BBA Inc. and released last month.

But the study suggests the project would pay for itself over its estimated 40-year lifetime, delivering projected savings of $40 million a year by replacing fossil fuels from dirty, expensive diesel generators with cleaner hydroelectric power.

The report, called Hydroelectric Power from Manitoba to the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, says extending the electric power grid “would generation great socioeconomic and environmental benefits for the population of the Kivalliq region and the development of the mineral industry.”

The study looks at extending an existing power line feed from Gillam, Manitoba, which currently ends at Churchill, and building it north to Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield and Baker Lake.

The transmission line could also extend to mine sites in the region, such as Agnico Eagle’s Meadowbank and Meliadine mines, if they’re still in operation by 2025, the power line’s projected completion date.

The preliminary evaluation suggests the feed could provide up to 100 megawatts of power to Nunavut.

The existing transmission line from Gillam to Churchill delivers power at 138 kilovolts (kV) over a distance of about 300 kilometres.

So a higher voltage transmission line of 230 kV would be required to connect Churchill to Rankin Inlet, 615 kilometres away, and then lower feed via community “substations” to traverse the additional 280 kilometres to Baker Lake, the study said.

The Nunavut portion of the project would be owned by the Qulliq Energy Corp., which would purchase the energy from Manitoba Hydro at anywhere between six and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The new study did not look at the potential selling price of electricity from the QEC to its Nunavut customers.

But given Manitoba Hydro’s costs, the Government of Nunavut has said electricity could drop from the average of 75 cents per kW-hour currently charged in the Kivalliq down to about 13 cents per kW-hour.

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