NT Hydro’s capital budget set to be cut by $62 million as projects delayed

Workers inspect Snare Rapids hydro unit. (Supplied by NTPC.)
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The NT Hydro’s capital budget is set to be cut by more than $62 million, as delays have pushed completion on a number of major projects beyond 2021.

COVID-19, legal and regulatory delays and the ransomware attack in April 2020 — which prevented designers from accessing schematic drawings and getting plans approved — all caused project timelines to be pushed back, according to a letter sent to Infrastructure Minister Diane Archie by Noel Voykin, CEO of NT Hydro.

Design work and projects that were collaborations with NWT businesses were the only ones that made real progress in 2019, according to Voykin.

The $62 million cut more than halves the NT Hydro’s budget for capital project, while the Northwest Territories Power Corporation’s capital budget is also being cut by $44.4 million, around 46 per cent.

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There are several big projects which have been delayed, which are contributing to the cuts.

The Inuvik High Point Wind Project remains behind schedule and will continue to be throughout the upcoming year, according to Voykin. The delays come as a result of difficulties navigating the regulatory applications for the winter access road. The timeline for passing the regulatory process could be further pushed back as the road now faces a legal challenge, according to Voykin.

Around $19.5 million of work was planned for this upcoming fiscal year and only $3.8 million is now forecast to be completed.

The ransomware attack in April 2020 meant NT Hydro had to pushback start dates on a number of projects, resulting in $34 million in cuts to the capital budget work that had been planned for 2020-21.

Projects delayed by the ransomware attack include the Snare Forks G2 Overhaul, delaying $16 million of work, the L-150 transmission line re-anchoring project, delays totalling $5.5 million, the Snare Falls substation refurbishment, where $1.9 million in work was planned and the new Sachs Harbour power plant, delaying around $3 million in work.

Legal difficulties have also delayed the NTPC’s purchase of the Hay River power grid. The power corporation is appealing to the Supreme Court that an independent arbitrator set too high a value for the town’s power services.

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