A rainbow wraps itself around the horizon in Paulatuk, NT. The community is pressing forward with efforts to establish a wind power system with some financial help from Ottawa. Sandra Thrasher/NNSL file photo.

Ottawa is sending some cash up North to assist in two projects designed to reduce the Beaufort Delta’s dependency on diesel for power and heat generation by exploring wind power generation in Paulatuk and establishing a biomass supply chain in Fort McPherson

NWT MP Michael McLeod announced two projects April 1 on behalf of Natural Resources (NRCan) Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. totalling over $640,000 in a press release.

Paulatuk Community Corporation will be receiving $442,000 for its part in the Beaufort Hamlet Energy Initiative. The funding will go towards establishing a community energy plan in conjunction with Ulukhaktok, promote energy literacy in the community and skill building.

Paulatuk Energy Working Group chair Ray Ruben said in the release the plan would focus on tapping into the communities powerful wind resources, noting the community has dubbed itself the “South Wind Capital.”

“Winter winds often become so strong and persistent they create snowbanks huge enough to bury houses,” he said. “Kids can literally walk on the roofs and toboggan down the banks.”

Ruben added the idea had been in the works since 2007 when members of the community attended a GNWT-sponsored Wind Energy Conference in Tuktoyaktuk, where they met representatives from a community in Alaska which was using Wind power to heat their homes.

He added bringing Wind power to Paulatuk would help bring more self-sufficiency to the community and reduce the need to import fossil fuels from further south. It would also create long-term jobs and provide new skill building opportunities for the community.

“We are grateful to be part of NRCan’s Clean Energy for Remote and Rural Communities program,” he said. “Thank you, Canada, for believing in us and our experts.”

A second investment of $200,000 will be going to Rat River Development Corporation to build a wood chip supply chain. The plan is to use locally harvested willow trees to make wood chips for biomass systems to be used in heating and energy generation.

Rat River Development Corporation president Leslie Blake said the supply chain would create long-term jobs for the region in both the forestry and energy sector. She attributed the plan to the Teetl’lt Gwich’in Band’s late

Rat River Development Corporation president Leslie Blake said the supply chain would create long-term jobs for the region in both the forestry and energy sector. She attributed the plan to the Teetl’lt Gwich’in Band’s late Chief Johnny W. Kyikavichik, who had maintained the project as a long-term vision.

“With Johnny’s vision for willow heat and employment for community residents, we are moving forward in bio-energy as much as possible to realize the vision of self-sufficiency in alternative energy,” she said, thanking NRCan for the contribution. “We look forward to our continued work with Natural Resources Canada and the Clean Energy for Remote and Rural Communities Program.”

Both projects are funded out of NRCan’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program, which is a $220 program designed to help rural and remote communities get away from diesel power generation, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Eric Bowling

Covering all things related to the Beaufort Delta, Eric Bowling is your editor for the Inuvik Drum. He came north after cutting his teeth in Alberta. Eric enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee.

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2 Comments

  1. Biomass doesn’t work for the northern communities, lack of wood pellet suppliers, lack of transportation and storage and keeping pellets dry, heavy emissions from trucks transporting pellets from BC/Alberta to the North. Logistics issues closures of ferry’s and ice roads. High cost for transport, maintenance and pellets. 3 times costlier then diesel or natural gas. Not worth it for the minor reduction of emissions as those 18 wheelers diesel trucks have to transport heavy loads of pellets daily.

  2. Maybe if you reported correctly that the community in Fort McPherson tried to have their own wood pellet producing plant but failed and if you did the research the trees are saturated with moisture and doesn’t burn effectively you would know that it doesn’t work. Clear cutting trees are not the responsible thing to do and finding down and broken trees takes time and labour. For the few emissions saved is it worth it for tax payers to foot the very high tax bill when the country is so in debt and there are better and more efficient resources to use. Yes on paper it looks good but in reality it works in places like Yellowknife but not up further North.

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