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Operational review requested
Inuvik requests audit of NWT Power Corporation at meeting in Norman Wells

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 24, 2012

Inuvik municipal leaders have spearheaded a request to conduct an operational review of the NWT Power Corporation because of the utility's recent announcement that it has filed a rate application to increase power rates across the territory by seven per cent per year for the next several years.

NNSL photo/graphic

NWT Association of Communities president and Yellowknife Mayor Gordon Van Tighem, left, and vice-president and Inuvik councillor Clarence Wood, right, listen to an update from Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Berry Vrbanovic at the NWT association's annual general meeting on Friday, May 11 in Norman Wells. - photo courtesy of the NWT Association of Communities

"Obviously, there is a concern with the increasing of power rates in the territory," said Inuvik Mayor Denny Rodgers. "Given the ... unexpected energy costs that we're having to deal with now, and then of course to put a seven per cent power increase on top of that, is very onerous, and so we've asked that they revisit that."

The resolution to ask for the Auditor General of Canada to conduct an operational review of the Power Corp. was passed at the annual general meeting of the NWT Association of Communities held in Norman Wells from May 10 to 13. This was the 46th annual meeting of the association of communities, which brought together delegates from 20 communities, along with Premier Bob McLeod, various cabinet ministers and other political and business leaders, to discuss common interests.

"We discuss issues that are important to us all, and then we make recommendations and resolutions that we pass on to the GNWT on issues that we feel they need to look at," said Rodgers.

"That came from us. We wanted a motion that the auditor general, or an independent audit, be done on the power corp.," said Grand Hood, senior administrative officer for the Town of Inuvik. "This is an operational review to see if there's inefficiencies, that kind of stuff."

Going into the annual meeting, there was already a resolution on the books involving the corporation's rate increase, however due to the issue being raised by Inuvik delegates and discussions among all participants, a clause was added to request the operational review.

While the ideal outcome of the operational review would be for the the auditor general's office to come up with ways for the power corp. to save on costs, which would then be downloaded as savings onto the consumer, the main purpose is to simply make public the reasons behind the large rate increase.

"The operational review may come back and say 'Yeah, it's just that much more expensive to produce power,'" said Rodgers. "That's fine, but as a ratepayer and as a community government, it would be nice to have that document, and it is a public document once it's done."

The NWT Power Corp. did not comment by press time.

As the third session of the 17th legislative assembly was set to begin yesterday afternoon, the meeting was an opportunity for NWT communities to lobby the territorial government on behalf of their interests, said Rodgers.

Another resolution which passed at the meeting, of particular concern to Inuvik residents, is called Extraordinary Funding.

It's a pot of about $180,000 in emergency funding, and Inuvik is asking for as much of it as it can get, said Hood.

While Inuvik does have a strong case to receive emergency funding, considering its unresolved natural gas shortage, said Hood, it still may not qualify for the emergency funding because the town is still running a surplus.

"We're going to be penalized for being good money managers for the residents," said Hood. "We wanted to keep the money because we want a water treatment plant."

In its recently released 2012 operating and capital budget, the Town of Inuvik states it plans to spend half a million dollars in 2012 and then $13,518,925 in 2013 on a new water treatment facility.

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