Wind Doesn’t Work in the North, says Utility

Wind energy does not work well in northern Canada, according to the regional public utility.

HAY RIVER, Northwest Territories, CA, 2001-11-02 [SolarAccess.com] Growing interest in generating electricity from wind turbines prompted the Northwest Territories Power Corp to launch a trial wind power generation program that would explore the potential of wind energy under northern operating conditions, says president Leon Courneya. The utility has been involved in four wind projects in the North, and has monitored and assessed each turbine. “Unfortunately, the results have not been very good,” concludes Courneya in a note sent to all customers. “At this time, wind generation under northern conditions would not be cost effective compared to diesel generation.” Operating costs of a wind turbine are low, but “maintenance and capital costs are too high to be economical.” The utility has had little success in identifying a reliable supplier of equipment. “Most units do not operate reliably in cold weather and need a lot of maintenance,” he explains. “To make it work, capital and maintenance costs need to be lower and production must be more reliable.” The utility “has gained valuable experience from this program and we will continue to try to find solutions for the problems we have encountered,” he adds. “We look forward to one day providing customers with wind generated electricity that is both reliable and competitively priced.” Earlier this year, the utility was split into two groups: Northwest Territories Power and Nunavut Power, to reflect the creation of Canada’s third northern territory. The utility maintains essential power for 28 communities across the Northwest Territories, and has 27 separate power systems serving a population of 40,000 people spread over a service territory of 1.2 million square kilometres. Facilities include hydroelectric and diesel generation plants with total lead of 64.5 MW, ranging from 71,000 kW at Snare/Yellowknife to 150 kW at Jean Marie River. Hydro is used in the Snare/Yellowknife and Taltson regions, while diesel is used in all other locations except Norman Wells, where electricity is purchased from Esso Resources.

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