The proposed Taltson Hydroelectric Expansion Project would add a new power plant to the existing 18 MW Taltson Twin Gorges plant. The new plant will have a production of up to 56 MW, roughly twice the average needed to power Yellowknife. Using 690 kilometres of new transmission line, this facility could supply renewable electricity to the existing Ekati, Diavik and Snap Lake mines, and to the proposed Gahcho Kué mine.
The Taltson Hydroelectric Expansion Project is a project of the Dezé Energy Corporation, which is owned equally by the Akaitcho Energy Corporation, the Métis Energy Company Ltd., and the NWT Energy Corporation 03 Ltd. (NTEC03). The Akaitcho Energy Corporation and the Métis Energy Company Ltd. are business ventures of the Akaitcho First Nation and Métis Nation respectively, while NTEC03 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwest Territories Hydro Corporation, a crown corporation owned by the Government of the Northwest Territories.
In 1966, a hydroelectric generating facility was built on the Taltson River to provide power for the Pine Point Mine. The mine was closed in 1987. Since then, the hydro generation facility has been operating below its capacity, although it supplies power to Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Resolution and Fort Fitzgerald.
Five years ago Deze Energy Corporation filed a detailed project description with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB). The proposed Expansion Project includes the following key infrastructure components: A new 36 MW hydroelectric station at Twin Gorges, utilizing the existing plant, a new 1250 m canal, penstocks and tailrace canal; a new gated control structure at the outlet of Nonacho Lake, including a microhydro plant for site-generated power; interconnection of the new generating station and the existing 18 MW Twin Gorges generation plant in a new 115/161 kV switchyard at Twin Gorges; 554 km of 161 kV transmission line from Twin Gorges around the East Arm of Great Slave Lake through the Snap Lake/Gahcho Kué area to the Lac de Gras area; 136 km of 69 kV transmission line between Snap Lake and the proposed Gahcho Kué mine site, and between the Ekati and Diavik mine sites; andFour new substations, one at each mine site. Construction is estimated to generate approximately 400 direct jobs over different periods of the project’s construction phase, an equivalent of 216 person-years. Indirect employment in support of construction includes freight and fuel trucking to Twin Gorges, building transmission line storage yards and camps over the three winter road periods, camp operations, flight transportation and engineering support.
There have been a whole series of delays, mostly at the behest of Deze Energy, at the regulatory review of the project. The Mackenzie Valley Review Board agreed to grant a 6 month extension to Deze Energy, to Jul-2013, to provide the time to address the gaps in the business case.
The proponents hoped to tap the Government of Canada’s $1.2 billion fund that’s managed by P3 Canada to support this infrastructure project.
This is a big risky project for the NWT. It has not been costed out, but it is not hard to see the cost topping several hundreds of millions of dollars. By the time the line is ever built Ekati and then Diavik would be shutting down. Hydro is nice—it’s green, saves greenhouse gases and it’s plentiful, but it’s very expensive to build.
NWT would be better off looking at geothermal and energy from its plentiful natural gas deposits.