“Better late than never,” That is that assessment by Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne after three generators, years overdue, finally arrived in the city last week.
The generators arrived at the Jackfish Power Plant at the edge of the city on Oct 17. Crews were hard at work Friday setting them onto concrete slabs.
NWT Power Corporation contracted Virdi Power of California to purchase five generators in 2015, to be delivered in six months. Two years later, three of them finally materialized.
According to Jay Grewal, NTPC president and chief executive officer, the total cost for the five generators was $3.7 million. She said that discussions are ongoing for a delivery date for the other two generators. Grewel said the generators were absolutely needed by NTPC.
“We have some end-of-life diesel generators that were no longer reliable … We need to ensure we can provide power in all instances,” Grewal said.”
Each generator is capable of producing 1.1 megawatts of electricity. They are only expected to be pressed into service when there is a power outage – planned or unplanned, said Grewal. She added that they will only be used to power up customers who are on the Snare system – Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah and Behchoko.
Last month, Yellowknifer reported two more generators are still in California.
NTPC has had to rent three mobile generators for the Jackfish power plant while awaiting the arrival of the new generators. According to documents tabled in the legislative assembly in March by Louis Sebert, the minister responsible for the power corp, the total cost of the rental was approximately $500,000.
“That’s a pot of money that’s growing continuously,” Vanthuyne said. He raised questions of whether Virdi would be required to pay back some of the costs incurred because of the late delivery, and when the final generators would arrive.
According to Grewal, the costs to rent the three mobile generators will be absorbed by Virdi and not passed on to NTPC customers.
NWT power consumers already pay some of the highest electricity rates in North America.
Andrew Ellis, NTPC project manager, supervised the installation of the generators last Friday.
He said the huge units, about 15 metres (50 feet) long, just over three metres (ten feet) high and weighing almost 28 metric tons (61,500 pounds), had to be lifted into place with a heavy-duty crane.
“We now have to run a fuel line to each unit and then run the power lines to a…transformer so then we can use the power to power Yellowknife,” he said. “We’re glad that they are here and we look forward to getting them into service as soon as we can.”
Scott Spencer, chief technical officer for the power corp, said in early October that NTPC will pay an independent monitor $10,000 to make sure the generators are installed properly and working the way they are supposed to.
Vanthuyne vowed he will keep the pressure on the minister to ensure ratepayers are not footing the bill.
Meanwhile NTPC now says that a short power outage a week ago Monday was caused by a malfunction with aging equipment in a substation on the Ingraham Trail.
“Customers were interrupted when the Bluefish transmission line tripped at 10:42 a.m., resulting in the loss of …generation from the Bluefish hydroelectric facility. Power was fully restored by 10:53 a.m., stated Eileen Hendry, NTPC acting manager of system control, in an e-mail. She stated parts have been ordered to upgrade the substation, with delivery expected in late December.