Sakku signs on for Agnico wind farm

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Sakku Investments Corporation may soon become the first 100 per cent Inuit-owned renewable energy provider in the Kivalliq.

Sakku Investments Corporation has plans to invest in wind energy with a project at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine. The investment-arm of the Kivalliq Inuit Association signed a memorandum of understanding with Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and the Whitehorse-based Northern Energy Capital for the construction of a three-turbine wind farm on May 8. Cody Punter/NNSL photo

On May 8 the investment-arm of the Kivalliq Inuit Association signed a memorandum of understanding with Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and the Whitehorse-based Northern Energy Capital for the construction of a three-turbine wind farm at the company’s Meliadine mine near Rankin Inlet.

The agreement was signed after a previous plan to supply the entire Kivalliq with wind energy was pitched to the federal government by Agnico Eagle in the fall.

That plan, which was outlined in a letter from Agnico Eagle to the minister of Environment and Climate Change in September, proposed reinvesting money from the $48 million in carbon taxes the company was expected to pay out over the course of a decade into renewable energy in the Kivalliq.

The plan suggested powering the region by putting a dozen wind turbines at Meliadine mine as well as one in each community.

However, according to Dominique Girard, vice-president of Nunavut operations for Agnico Eagle, that idea was shelved after changes to the federal carbon tax meant the company’s contributions to the fund would be almost revenue neutral.

$60 – $75 million investment

The decision to move ahead with a plan to build just three turbines was arrived at after Agnico completed a feasibility study in February.

Based on the numbers from the study Agnico believes the three proposed wind turbines would be able to supply Meliadine with 20 per cent of its energy needs, resulting in a reduction of between six and eight million litres of diesel per year.

“On a 10 year basis we’re talking about 60 to 80 million litres of diesel,” said Girard.

Sakku president David Kakuktinniq told Kivalliq News the corporation was approached by Agnico last fall to gauge their interest in investing in wind.

“Given it’s long-term nature and the positive impact toward it provides for the region it was a natural fit for our to investigate it further,” said Kakuktinniq.

According to Kakuktinniq, it is estimated the Meliadine wine turbine project will require between $60 and $75 million worth of investment.

He said the corporation is hoping to get government funding as well as private investment to help finance the projects.

“A lot of this is dependent on contribution and grants to make it feasible,” Kakuktinniq said.

Sakku is currently working with Agnico and Northern Energy Capital to come up with a business case for the turbines. Kakuktinniq added the project still needs to go through the permitting phase.

“We’re not going to be an alternative energy service provider overnight,” he said.

“We’re just starting to get in to the material of what this looks like, what this will cost, what we will charge. The payback is long and slow and we have to be careful about how we do that. We’re looking at the bottom dollar and making sure this is going to make sense for us and the region.”

Renewables for the region

While Sakku is currently focused on assessing the feasibility of the Meliadine wind farm, Kakuktinniq said the project could provide a stepping stone for the corporation to provide renewable energy throughout the Kivalliq.

“This could be a chance to build our capacity and put bricks and mortar in place,” said Kakuktinniq.

Both Sakku and Agnico see the Manitoba hydro link as the long-term solution to the Kivalliq’s energy woes. But in a best case scenario it is expected to take a decade before that is up and running.

Even if it comes online, Kakuktinniq pointed out that Naujaat and Coral Harbour would not be served by the line, which could present the opportunity for wind power to fill those gaps.

In addition to those communities Kakuktinniq said there could be future opportunities for “smaller one-off” projects.

“You’re in a good position if you’re already in the business.”