Power cuts out
Director explains outages

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Oct 01/99) - Pun Chu says the recent spate of power outages across Inuvik can be put down to a variety of sources -- including the NWT Power Corporation's recent conversion to natural gas fuel.

Director of Western Operations with the Power Corp, Chu said Thursday that the new gas engine has been running on its own since it was turned on during a Sept. 10 ceremony but that it had experienced a "minor hiccup" that morning as well as on the previous Friday.

"It's been running at full production, but we're still doing some final testing," he said. "For a new system you're bound to see some of these hiccups as you go, but it will be fine."

Chu said the other outage Thursday was the result of a wiring problem on an engine control and because of human error. He said the back-up diesel engine kicked in immediately, resulting in only a five-minute outage. But Chu said there've also been some problems with the feeder on the airport line.

"We want to do another line inspection there to make sure there are no phantom problems," he said. "It seems that one was tripped twice in the last couple weeks."

Lyle Neis, general manager of Inuvik Gas Ltd., confirmed the young partnership delivering gas to Inuvik had nothing to do with the power outages.

"It's definitely a perceived coincidence that we're involved," he said, "but it has to do with the Power Corporation's conversion of their own building."

Neis said that meanwhile it's "full-steam ahead" on the gas-conversion front. He said the town's contractors are busy installing new equipment in Inuvik homes and businesses -- a point confirmed by Wally Wilson, co-owner of Rocky's Plumbing and Heating.

"We're plugging along -- there's a lot of interest in it," said Wilson. "We've probably given out about 40 prices, and there's enough work out there."

Contractors like Rocky's are not only performing the conversions but also selling natural gas appliances like furnaces and ranges.