Snare Falls hydro plant back online – cost upwards of $1.5m

Snare hydro system
An aerial view of an element of the Snare hydro system.
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The Snare Falls hydroelectric plant has been repaired and is once again generating power.

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) had warned the plant could be shut for months, depending on damage to the turbine.

However, having inspected the full extent of the problem and shipped in replacement parts, the turbine came back online on Monday afternoon.

“We were able to bring this unit back online a few days ahead of schedule,” said NTPC chief executive Emanuel DaRosa in a statement late on Tuesday.

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March 3: Turbine at Snare Falls could be shut down for months, says NTPC

The turbine failed in mid-February, requiring $40,000 per day in additional diesel fuel to compensate for its loss while it underwent inspection and repair.

A damaged bearing was identified as the issue. Refurbished parts reached the site by March 7, but the plant had to be “fully de-watered” – which the NTPC says is rarely done in winter, given issues with ice build-up – to assess the precise nature of the damage.

“This process identified an additional bearing in the lower chamber as requiring replacement,” said the NTPC.

“To bring the turbine unit back into service the blades were repaired, both upper and lower bearings were replaced, and the unit was re-aligned and re-watered.

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“While the unit is functioning normally at this time, it is still scheduled for a complete overhaul later this spring when demand for electricity is lower and the need for additional diesel generation is decreased.”

The power corporation says the repairs are estimated to have cost $505,000, with the additional fuel required coming in at an estimated $1.16 million.

Who pays for that? Hopefully not you, according to the NTPC, which added it is “working closely” with the territorial government to “minimize the impact of this event on customers and cost of living in the NWT”.

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