Power plant plans
Construction in Sanikiluaq on the fast track

Maria Canton
Northern News Services

Sanikiluaq ( Jun 12/00) - Plans to fast track the rebuilding of the fire-ravaged Sanikiluaq power plant are already under way, says the director of Nunavut operations for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC).

Axel Have says the new plant will cost between $4 and $5 million and the building should be complete within six months -- a year and a half faster than usual.

"We're hoping to use the same foundation for the new building, but right now everything is being inspected," said Have, who added that the time and costs of fire clean-up are also at play.

"Everything is under way right now, diesel engine tenders are out, a pre-engineered steel building is ordered -- we're going to have to do this project in six months and we normally take two years to build a plant."

The cause of the fire that destroyed the plant and left Sanikiluaq residents without power for almost two days is yet to be determined and Have says they may never know what ignited the blaze.

For the past month, power-plant superintendent Shawn Balfour has been keeping a close eye on the three engines that were flown into the community and are housed in a makeshift building to protect them from the elements.

"There is a lot more to do now because the old system was automated and this one is manual -- a lot of times I'm here until 1 a.m. making sure everything is OK for the night," said Balfour.

"We had a few problems adjusting the engines with the (kilowatt) loads, but I don't think people notice any difference in the power now."

A contractor is scheduled to fly into the community mid-month to tear down the building.

Mayor Annie Amitook says she is very proud of how her community reacted to the crisis that struck in the middle of the night.

"Everyone worked together very well and came together when they had to," she said.

"I think the power is OK right now, sometimes it goes out, but we treat it gently because we know it is just back up right now."

NTPC is expecting a report on the fire from the fire marshall and the insurance company later this month.