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Energy in the north - looking forward and back

December 25, 2014

Looking back at 2014

Alaska’s giant hydro project makes its way through the regulatory channels. Susitna-Watana Hydro is a large hydro project that would provide long-term stable power Alaskans. The project will generate 50 percent of the current Railbelt’s electric demand,  once it comes online in 2024. The planned installed capacity is 600 megawatts (MW).

Alaska’s recent wind projects at Fire Island and Mt.Eva highlight the state’s capabilities in carrying out renewable energy projects. It has a strong contingent of academic researchers and NGOs that support ongoing research.

In northern Canada interest in LNG is increasing from the mining sector and energy producers themselves. Yukon Energy is in the final stages of building a $40M LNG facility in Whitehorse that will replace its aging diesel plant.

AltaGas completed its $725 million Forrest Kerr ‘run of the river hydro’ project in northern BC. It was a P3 project supported by a 60-year, fully indexed Electricity Purchase Agreement with BC Hydro. AltaGas has two other smaller P3 hydro projects under the regulatory process. BC Hydro’s grid expansion to Bob Quinn Lake will spur economic development in north-western BC.

In Nunavik, Glencore opted to install a three-megawatt wind turbine at its Raglan Mine.

Looking forward at 2015

The BC Government has approved the giant $8B Site C Hydro Project to proceed. Site C is a third dam and hydroelectric generating station on the Peace River in northeast B.C.  Construction of the project is expected to begin in the summer of 2015. Site C will provide 1,100 megawatts (MW) of capacity, and produce about 5,100 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity each year — enough energy to power the equivalent of about 450,000 homes per year in B.C.

The Yukon’s Development Corporation is examining clean hydro options through a series of public consultations in the first half of 2015. So far the study team has whittled down 108 potential hydro sites to just 16. They hope to have a recommendation ready in 2015.

Mining projects in the north that do not have access to the electrical grid are all considering LNG as the fuel of choice. Just two years ago diesel would have been preferred. Inuvik is using LNG for power generation—the first northern community to do so.

Both NWT and Nunavut are looking at a variety of energy conservation measures. Nunavut is moving to installing smart meters in a big way.


Overall, jurisdictions in the north emphasize renewable energy. BC builds on its strength - hydro electricity - to develop its sparsely inhabited north-western corner. Alaska’s giant hydro project winds its way through the regulatory process.