The Northwest Territories Power Corporation is repairing damaged infrastructure near the Taltson hydroelectric facility after a wildfire prompted an evacuation last month.
On Aug. 26, the fire, about 30 kilometres northeast of Fort Smith, had grown to an estimated 255 square kilometres in size, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
On Aug. 20, it came close to an NTPC work camp, prompting the power company to voluntarily evacuate all non-essential staff from the Taltson Dam area.
Company spokesperson Doug Prendergast said, “the scenario didn’t have an impact on the delivery of electricity to customers,” as the hydroelectric facility happened to be offline for annual summer maintenance, and power for the South Slave was being provided by local diesel plants.
Two workers remained at the site to help strengthen fire defences, though “the operators were not expected to actively fight a fire,” said Prendergast.
“Our operators were pumping water on key infrastructure and storage facilities during periods of extreme heat when there was a risk of the fire changing direction,” he said.
They also ran pumps and hoses to various parts of the facility to make them available for ENR fire officials.
The power company kept in regular communication with ENR, which conducted regular flybys, until employees were allowed to return to the site on Aug. 27.
“There was really good communication between the fire officials at ENR and the NTPC,” said Prendergast. “The Taltson hydro facility is clearly one of our most valuable assets, so there was a lot of concern, and the open lines of communication made life a lot easier for everybody.”
While the facility was spared by the fire, Prendergast said there was some damage to transmission lines in the area, and three transmission towers.
“We’re actively working to inspect and assess those assets to make sure they’re in working order before we re-energize those lines,” he continued. “We expect to be doing some additional work later this month to shore up transmission lines and related infrastructure.”
Once an examination of the transmission lines is complete, Prendergast said the power company intends to restart the Taltson facility “as soon as we’re convinced that it’s safe to do so,” which could be within a matter of days.