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LNG-fuelled plant operational
Cost-savings should increase, says premier

Shawn Giilck
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, January 16, 2014

A liquified natural gas pilot project at the NWT Power Corporation's Inuvik plant could be heating up the alternative fuel source market around the NWT.

nnsl photo

Premier Bob McLeod was on hand for the official commissioning of the NWT Power Corporation's liquified natural gas power plant in Inuvik Jan. 8. It's the first of its kind in the territory, with the LNG fuel allowing the plant to resume using its natural gas generators rather than diesel. - Shawn Giilck/NNSL photo

The renovated plant was officially commissioned last week during a visit by Premier Bob McLeod. The GNWT and the town's energy problems as the Ikhil natural gas well begins to run low has been the driving force behind the experiment with liquified natural gas (LNG), said McLeod joined by Michael Miltenberger, the minister responsible for the Power Corporation.

Both government leaders called the project an "exciting" development for the NWT and Inuvik.

At one time, the Inuvik plant used natural gas as its primary source of fuel, Miltenberger said, but it was refitted to operate off diesel as the Ikhil problems became more pressing.

Luckily, the natural gas generators were mothballed rather than dismantled, said Miltenberger. Once an LNG source was located, the equipment could be pressed back into service with little effort, he said.

The main updating and refitting at the plant was the construction and installation of two reservoirs for the natural gas, which will hold enough LNG to power the plant for approximately a week at a time.

"This is a unique and cutting edge project," said Miltenberger.

"This provides a reliable and more economical source of power for Inuvik and the price should drop as the supply lines shorten."

The LNG is being trucked in from a Vancouver plant, which is the only authorized source at the moment. New LNG plants are springing up in Alberta and B.C., said Miltenberger. When those are in operation, they will give the GNWT some alternatives in purchasing the fuel and hopefully closer plants will result in savings in transporting the LNG, he said.

McLeod said "initially we expect the facility will displace half of the annual diesel used for power generation in the Town of Inuvik and produce 25 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Once fully operational, the facility will provide a two per cent rate savings across the 21 communities of the thermal region and eliminate almost 6,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year."

The premier added "LNG may not be the ultimate solution for Inuvik, but this facility will help give the community more time to consider its options.

"As this project proves out successfully we will be able to consider similar projects in communities like Fort Simpson, Fort McPherson and Fort Liard, creating similar benefits for residents, businesses and the environment," said McLeod. "When closer LNG supply sources emerge, we hope to see further savings as a result of reduced transportation distances and will be better positioned to leverage Northwest Territories gas supplies once they become viable. We also need to explore the business case for industrial scale applications that could power mines in the North Slave regions with a central gas plant and transmission line spurs."

Miltenberger said LNG is an "intermediate step until we can look at affordable future options."

Plant officials said there will be enough diesel in storage to run the plant for a year if the supply line of LNG is disrupted.

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