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Renewable Energy Inventory

Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectricity has been generated in Yukon and the Northwest Territories since the 1940s. Hydro projects were often developed with significant federal investment to coincide with the opening of a new mine, which was the anchor customer to finance the project. These projects provide the hydro generation capacity that now supplies significant portions of the electricity used by residents in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The territories have some of the best undeveloped hydroelectric resources in Canada. Each territory has identified significant hydro potential that could be developed over the long term and has active plans for new generation or transmission lines that will be developed over the next three years.

There are considerable challenges, however, in realizing hydro potential: cost, lack of capital, the need to guarantee customers, and environmental and socio-economic impacts. Hydro projects have high capital costs that governments have to finance while trying to avoid increasing rate charges to customers. There are also community concerns about development on some rivers, and logistical difficulties as many potential hydro sites in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are located too far away from consumers.

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is currently finalizing a draft hydro strategy. The strategy will comprise 13 key actions to ensure that residents of the Northwest Territories are positioned to build upon the existing hydro legacy. For example, hydro development, including the Taltson Dam expansion, mini-hydro projects for selected communities, and extension of the existing electricity grid are key priorities in which the GNWT will continue to invest. Recently, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation installed a small in-stream hydro turbine that is now being tested on the Mackenzie River near Fort Simpson.

Figure 4
Current and Planned Hydroelectric Projects
Figure 4 outlines all current and planned short-term hydroelectric projects for each territory.

 
Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision