Construction on a project that will see a wind turbine installed near Inuvik is now underway. The territorial and federal governments, along with the Gwich’in Tribal Council, say it will provide local jobs along with cleaner and cheaper power.
The Inuvik wind project is expected to reduce diesel use in Inuvik by 30 percent, offsetting around three million litres of diesel per year. The NWT government said that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6,000 tonnes annually, or the equivalent of removing 1,500 cars from the road.
“The reduction in greenhouse gases and associated carbon footprint from fossil fuel power generation in the Beaufort Delta can only assist in combatting global climate change – the effects of which we face on a daily basis,” Ken Kyikavichik, grand chief of the Gwich’in Tribal Council, said in a statement.
The NWT government said the project is a key part of its 2030 Energy Strategy and will help in reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from diesel use in communities by 25 percent or 18 kilotonnes by 2030.
The project will see a 3.5 megawatt wind turbine and battery storage system installed in an area called High Point, located about 12 kilometres east of Inuvik. Construction of a six-kilometres access road to the site by Northland Builder, a Gwich’in-owned business, began last month. The road is expected to be completed by the spring.
“I am very pleased to celebrate the commencement of the construction of the Inuvik wind generation project,” NWT MP Michael McLeod said on Wednesday. “I look forward to the day to join everybody when this turbine comes online.”
Completion of the project is anticipated for the winter of 2023. Once it is operational, the assets and operations will be transferred to the NWT Power Corporation.
The territorial government said contract work during the construction phase of the project will benefit Gwich’in businesses, beneficiaries and others in the Beaufort Delta region.
But the project hasn’t been without criticism.
The Nihtat Gwich’in Council opposed the project in August 2020 over concerns that construction will take place within a reindeer grazing reserve. After the Gwich’in Land and Water Board ruled the territorial government had a right to occupy the land, the Nihtat Gwich’in Council asked the NWT Supreme Court to review that decision.
Kyikavichik told reporters on Wednesday that at its annual assembly in January 2021, the Nihtat Gwich’in Council ultimately decided not to proceed with the judicial review.
The federal government has committed up to $30 million for the Inuvik wind project, while the territorial government said it will provide $10 million.