The MLA for Monfwi is calling on the NWT government to connect Whatì to a reliable power source as soon as possible following a lengthy power outage.
Jackson Lafferty said residents were left “freezing in the dark” during a 20-hour outage on January 13 and 14. Two of the community’s three diesel generators failed.
“When the power goes out, maybe it’s an accident. But if the two go out, it’s neglect,” Lafferty told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
At the time, the power corporation said ongoing problems appeared to be related to frost on power lines.
On Wednesday, Diane Archie – the territorial minister responsible for the power corporation – apologized for the power outage. She said it was due in part to a section of the power line “slapping together” as a result of high winds.
Lafferty said the corporation had been “spinning its wheels for more than a decade” in Whatì. He noted the community has no backup if the diesel generators fail.
“I want this government to do something before a tragedy really strikes,” he said.
Archie acknowledged the power corporation’s Whatì infrastructure – like many of its facilities – was ageing, which affects its reliability.
The minister said there are plans to replace one of the generators in Whatì next year. In the next few weeks, the power corporation plans to install mid-line spacers on the affected section of the power line.
In the longer term, the NWT government plans to connect Whatì to the Snare Forks hydro plant. Archie said the project forms an important part of the NWT’s 2030 energy strategy.
The territory hopes to apply to the federal government for funding by the end of 2021, the minister said.
For Lafferty, that’s not soon enough.
“The community is wishing and hoping and praying for a transmission line to come into the community ASAP,” he said.
“If we have to wait to the federal government to respond, it will take years and years and years.”