Whati Mini Hydro Feasibility Study

Aerial view of Whati

To cut its dependence on diesel-generated electricity, the lakeside northern community of Whati studied construction of a hydroelectric system powered by running water from the nearby La Martre River Falls, which flow out of Lac Le Martre.

The study found that energy from the river's natural flow could provide 1,200 kilowatts of hydro power, enough to replace the 1,015 kilowatts supplied by the community's diesel generators. The project would require construction of a reservoir, a turbine-equipped powerhouse fed by a 1,284-metre pipe from the river, and overhead wires to distribute the electricity.  

The system would eliminate the need to truck in 400,000 litres of diesel fuel each year from Yellowknife, which is 164 kilometres to the southeast over roads only open in the winter.

Results

Environmental Economic Social
  • 1,370 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions cut annually by using electricity from hydro, not diesel fuel
  • 400,000 litres of diesel fuel unconsumed
  • Hydro plant construction jobs
  • Diesel-fuel trucking costs eliminated
  • Local source of electricity will provide a reliable supply of power
  • Local power will boost community sense of independence

Challenges

  • Funding for the hydroelectric project is subject to Northwest Territory budget constraints.
  • Reliability of the water supply could be threatened by weather conditions.
  • Lower winter water flows could lead to electricity restrictions when cold weather demand is highest.

Lessons learned

  • Storage reservoirs may be needed to ensure sufficient water to generate power and maintain river ecosystems.
  • Be prepared for a lengthy study period.
  • Government financing for alternative energy projects can be uncertain.

Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Sonny Zoe
Community Energy Coordinator
Whati, NT
T. 867-573-3401

© 2019 Federation of Canadian Municipalities