NTPC ‘cautiously optimistic’ water levels at Snare will be up

Snare hydro system
An aerial view of an element of the Snare hydro system.
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The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) is cautiously optimistic that water levels in the Snare hydro system will be higher this year.

Record low levels in the past two years have limited how much electricity the system can generate.

As a result, the territorial government has provided roughly $50 million to the power company to cover the costs of diesel used during that time.

Read: The NWT’s Paying Your Power Bill Again: This Time It’s $30 Million

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Pam Coulter, spokesperson for the power company, says officials have reason to believe water levels could improve this year.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” she said. “We had a lot of rain in the fall and that means that the ground is wet so when there’s a spring thaw, it means not as much water goes into the ground.

“We also measure our snow and we have some really, really good snow this year.”

In a typical year, Coulter says the power company produces 95 percent of electricity for the North Slave region with hydro. The other five percent is generated with diesel.

But at times over the past two years, NTPC has relied on diesel to generate almost 30 percent of electricity. The company hopes to be much more reliant on hydro this summer.

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“We’re hoping to go back to that and have our reliance on diesel decrease significantly and go back to the 95 percent hydro and 5 percent diesel,” said Coulter.

While the company is cautiously optimistic, Coulter says officials won’t know exactly what kind of water levels they’re dealing with for months.

“We don’t ever really know until we get the spring thaw,” she said.

“That’s why we’re always cautious because until that happens, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get water.”

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