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Power plant delayed

No risk to Baker residents: Picco

Chris Puglia
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Aug 20/03) - A $9 million power plant project in Baker Lake has been pushed back at least a year, according to Energy Minister Ed Picco.

The plant would add increased power capacity in the growing hamlet.

According to MLA Glenn McLean, power consumption in Baker has increased by over 30 per cent in the last year.

The new power plant was originally scheduled to begin operation this summer.

However, Picco said, because a proposed fuel rider on power bills was scrapped ,new capital priorities had to be made.

The move fits with two objectives that were set when the rider was scrapped.

"We put a hold on all discretionary spending within the power corporation, number one. Number two -- reduce capital plan purchasing," said Picco.

Part of that purchasing included the two diesel engines that would power the new plant.

Those purchases will be moved over to the next fiscal year, according to Picco.

The move was necessary, said the minister, because the capital budget for the power corporation was reduced by over $8 million.

"We went from a $12 million budget to a $3.8 million budget," said Picco.

One source said the decision is worrisome because the hamlet has had concern over brown-outs in the community.

"We have no worries on the stability of the power supply in Baker," said Picco.

"Every community when you're dealing with diesel generated power you deal with power outages."

Picco said similar power outages occur in Iqaluit, but there are no current plans to build a new power plant.

The delay commissioning the plant by a year was a re-prioritization to ensure critical projects could be completed this year.

Picco said it was deemed the power plant in Baker could be pushed back safely.

The decision, he said, was strictly financial.

"When we rejected the fuel rider we had to put on fiscal restraints," said Picco.