Whatì has waited more than 20 years for progress on bringing the town a reliable electricity supply and the territorial government needs to speed up the process, according to MLA Jackson Lafferty.
Monfwi MLA Lafferty says he wants to see a proposal in front of the federal government for funding soon, as residents are growing tired of depending on unreliable diesel generators for power. Lafferty noted a recent power outage that impacted the community.
“It lasted an unbelievable — well over 20 hours. It was a level 3 power failure, the Power Corporation’s highest level of emergency,” said Lafferty, speaking in the Legislative Assembly. “The culprit was the community’s out-of-date diesel generators.”
“Just consider if it was minus 50 or minus 60. Good thing it was minus 15 and minus 20 at that time,” he added.
Lafferty noted that Whatì is the closest community in the territory to the Snare Hydro complex, which is around 40 kilometres away, but isn’t connected to the plant. Yellowknife is four times the distance but is connected, according to Lafferty.
Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie says planning for a transmission line to connect Whatì is still in its early stages, with consultation ongoing.
Archie said an application would be in front of the federal government within 12 months. She added the Department of Infrastructure would be meeting with the Tlicho government on April 17 to discuss various infrastructure projects, including the transmission line.
Lafferty says the work needs to move beyond the consultation stage.
“It’s been well over 20 years since we talked about the mini hydro initiative,” he said. “Now, a transmission line. We’re still talking today, 20 years versus 20 hours of a power outage. I, for one, would like for this government to act on what is in the best interest of the community, and that is the power hook-up.”