An ambitious geothermal power project for the community of Ft.Liard, NWT has come to an inauspicious end. Let the finger pointing begin.
A proposed geothermal plant for Fort Liard, which has been in the works for about five years, will not be moving forward. The plant would have created enough electricity to meet all of the hamlet’s needs. Borealis GeoPower, a Calgary-based corporation, has been working with Acho Dene Koe First Nation for approximately five years on a project to build a geothermal plant in the community that would create enough electricity to meet all of the hamlet’s needs.
Borealis and the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC), which was approached by Borealis to purchase the electricity from the plant, have differing views on why the project has ended. Borealis couldn’t reach a power purchase agreement with the power corporation. Among other things, the agreement would have guaranteed that the corporation would purchase the electricity generated by the geothermal plant, and the price the corporation would pay for that electricity.
Borealis needed a binding contract in place by Dec. 31, 2012, said Thompson. Together with Acho Dene Koe First Nation, Borealis applied to Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy Fund around 2009 and was conditionally approved for between $10 million and $20 million in funding for the geothermal project. The funding was supposed to end on Jan. 1, 2012, but the company was able to get an extension until December of that year to meet the conditions needed to receive the funding. All the main points that form the basis of a power purchase agreement with NWT Power Corporation (NTPC) had been agreed upon between the corporation and were included in a term sheet.
Borealis needed the binding agreement in order to attract investors to help finance the project. The company had to show they had matching funds from other sources as one of the funding conditions.
The project did break some new ground. Borealis obtained the first geothermal land use permit and type A water licence issued by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. According to Thompson, they were also the first geothermal licences of their kind issued in any federal jurisdiction in Canada. Obtaining those permits has hopefully created a pathway for other people to get similar permits for other geothermal projects
The lack of a third party investor to provide funding meant the project could not be put together. It’s a shame, as the project involved a big geothermal energy project for the north and would have set the stage for other similar projects.