Yellowknife

New generators finally arrive in YK after vast delay


Two new diesel generators arrived at Yellowknife’s Jackfish Lake power plant on Friday, around two years after their supposed arrival date.

A contract with California-based Virdi was cancelled by the NWT government in 2018 after only three out of five generators were delivered – and even those were said to be more than a year late.

The final two generators were shipped by a different supplier, Red Deer-based Collicutt.

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“All five should have been here well over a year ago,” said Doug Prendergast, a spokesperson for the NWT Power Corporation, in explaining why Virdi’s contract was cancelled and a new supplier found.

While waiting for the overdue generators, the power corporation said it was forced to rent a unit to make up for their absence.

A year ago, Louis Sebert – then the minister responsible for the power corporation – said expenditures associated with Virdi’s alleged failure to deliver would cost the taxpayer an extra $500,000.

The power corporation said some costs were recouped from Virdi. On Friday, Prendergast stated: “Our relationship with Virdi has concluded.”

The power corporation could not immediately quantify the final portion of cost overruns for which residents, as taxpayers and ratepayers, would be responsible.

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The new generators could be seen being manoeuvred into place on Friday afternoon at the power corporation’s Jackfish plant.

Each of the small, modular generators has a 1.1-megawatt generating capacity.

“The decision was made to go with modular, smaller units as they are more flexible,” said Prendergast. “They have a smaller capacity so you can activate them as needed, and they are also more mobile.

“If we determine they are required in another community, there is the ability to move them around,” he said. “But that is not something we would do often.”

The generators are expected to be online in the next two weeks. They help to provide power as necessary when the North Slave’s hydro systems are not meeting Yellowknife’s needs.

The original contract with Virdi was reportedly worth around $4.5 million, of which the NWT stated it had paid just under $3 million before the deal was abandoned.

Virdi’s president, Peter Virdi, disputed the power corporation’s assertions regarding delays in an interview with the CBC in March 2018.

Virdi told the broadcaster: “We did everything they asked us to do, in good faith and beyond.”

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