Bob McLeod: Development of the NWT Energy Plan

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its Mandate to create a new three-year Energy Action Plan, building on previous investments made over the past three years and the outcomes of the Energy Plan review.

As you have heard from the Minister of Public Works and Services, the Government of the Northwest Territories has accomplished a great deal in the areas of energy conservation and efficiency, and in implementing alternative and renewable energy solutions in recent years.  

The NWT is an acknowledged leader in installed biomass heating, and ranks second in the country in installed solar capacity per person. We have completed innovative projects, such as the Colville Lake solar-battery-diesel project, which has already resulted in periods where the community has operated without running its generators. 

As reflected in the proposed budget this year, we are working to advance the development of a wind turbine project in Inuvik, as well as an innovative project to install solar in combination with a variable speed generator in Aklavik.

We plan to continue this success by developing a vision for energy that addresses affordability, reliability, environmental impacts and the economic development potential of energy in the NWT.  This Plan will consider the future approach to the electricity system and the governance of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. The Plan will also consider how to expand the use of alternative and renewable energy, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and hydroelectricity development, as well as address the heating and transportation sectors.  

Mr. Speaker, we will start developing this new Energy Plan by releasing a public discussion document in July that will outline our proposed approach. Over the summer and fall, we will be asking the public, community and Aboriginal governments, other stakeholders, and Members of the Legislative Assembly for their views on our proposed approach. The Government intends to table a new Energy Plan early in 2017.  

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has held two Energy Charrettes over the past four years and gathered a great deal of information and input from community representatives, other stakeholders, and experts from across Canada. We have heard that affordability is the number one concern in communities, and that there are no simple solutions to the energy issues we face in the NWT.

Addressing our tremendous challenges will require some innovative thinking and big ideas. For example, the NWT has tremendous hydroelectricity potential. Could some of this potential be developed in partnership with Aboriginal governments to supply southern provinces with renewable power? Alberta and Saskatchewan still rely on coal-fired generation, and perhaps NWT hydro could contribute towards national climate change goals.

The Government of the Northwest Territories will pursue opportunities to leverage the Government of Canada’s New Infrastructure Plan to fund green infrastructure in the NWT. With federal government help, we can support green growth and address the cost of living in the NWT.

Based on what we have previously heard from Northerners, the discussion paper released in July will raise some proposed solutions. Further input will be critical to the success of this new Energy Plan and I encourage Northerners to provide comments to help ensure that we get it right.

Mr. Speaker, this Energy Plan will clearly be linked to the Climate Change Strategic Framework. The Framework will address a span of actions, from adaptation to the impacts of climate change to mitigating the impacts of our energy use on the environment. Mitigating the impacts of our energy use means continued growth in the use of local and renewable sources of energy in our communities, actions that will be detailed in the Energy Plan.

Opportunities for joint discussions with communities will be coordinated and I encourage all residents to participate in the development of the Strategic Framework and the Energy Plan. With your help, we can ensure that we have a supply of secure, affordable and sustainable energy that meets the needs of current and future generations.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.