Power Corp talks hit roadblock
No agreement on how to split profits under three-year deal

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 21/98) - An attempt to continue the NWT Power Corp. for a three-year transitional period has failed.

The stumbling block was how to divide profits between the West and East during the transitional period.

"Unfortunately, this fundamental difference of opinion cannot be resolved in time to proceed with legislation in the extremely limited window of opportunity remaining in this session," MLA Charles Dent said in the legislature.

Dent is the minister responsible for the NWT Power Corp.

"Strong and stubborn differences remain between the parties," Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak said in a release.

Anawak said Nunavut will now shop around for management of the East's power facilities.

Contracting would involve finding people to run diesel plants in the communities. Power installations in Nunavut are stand alone operations.

"I have instructed by officials to explore contracting back arrangements with other utilities interested in providing such services," he said.

Efforts to reach an agreement included the GNWT, the Office of the Interim Commissioner, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Western Coalition.

NWT Power Corp. makes about $10 million in profit a year. Of that, about $6 million is goes to the GNWT. The rest is spent on maintenance and upgrades.

The GNWT then takes that $6 million and uses it to ensure that people pay the same amount for a set amount of power.

The concern is that the equalization program may cost more than the dividend can bear. If so, and the GNWT does not spend money to keep the prices as they are now, it could mean higher power costs for everyone, West and East.

Dent remains optimistic that an agreement can be reached in the new year.