Powering Canada's Territories

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About the Study

Why did the Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources undertake a study on energy use and supply in the territories?

This study builds on earlier studies undertaken by the committee that examined energy use and supply in Canada. The Committee wanted to take a closer look at some of the major opportunities and challenges facing each territory in making energy affordable, reliable and sustainable for its residents and businesses.

What obstacles are northern communities faced with when powering their homes and businesses?

Each territory faces distinctive challenges due to dissimilar geography and degree of community remoteness. As a whole, the committee found electricity systems aging, underperforming, and at capacity. The committee also found a lack of financial capacity among utilities and territorial governments to advance major projects. Utilities face high costs associated with servicing many small remote communities which predominantly rely on diesel generation. Also, energy options are constrained as the territories are not connected to the North American energy grids.

What opportunities are emerging to help improve energy use and supply in territorial communities?

All three territories have developed energy strategies that differ in scope and implementation to promote and support renewable energy, increase energy efficiency and reduce the dependency on carbon intensive fuels. The territories are exploring opportunities to expand hydro and to connect to the North American electricity grid. In both Yukon and NWT, wind and solar account for a minor energy source but they will play a role in displacing future diesel generation. Also, new opportunities for natural gas generation and biomass heating are helping to diversify the energy mix in Yukon and NWT.

What were the findings of the committee?

Over the course of its study, the Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources held 18 hearings, heard from 42 witnesses, made 5 sites visits and concluded with 5 recommendations to the federal government to improve the energy circumstances in the territories.

The committee believes the federal government can play a pivotal role in helping the territories address their energy challenges while harnessing its energy opportunities to form a stronger and more prosperous North.

Senators who participated in this study

Richard Neufeld
C - (British Columbia)

Deputy Chair
Paul J. Massicotte
Lib. - (De Lanaudière - Quebec)

Douglas Black
C - (Alberta)

Michael L. MacDonald
C - (Cape Breton - Nova Scotia)

Grant Mitchell
Lib. - (Alberta)

Dennis Glen Patterson
C - (Nunavut)

Pierrette Ringuette
Lib. - (New Brunswick)

Judith G. Seidman
C - (De la Durantaye - Quebec)

Nick G. Sibbeston
Lib. - (Northwest Territories)

Ex-officio members of the committee:
The Honourable Senators Claude Carignan, P.C. (or Yonah Martin) and James S. Cowan (or Joan Fraser)

Other Senators who have participated from time to time in the study:
The Honourable Senators Diane Bellemare, Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Joseph A. Day, Linda Frum, Pierre Claude Nolin, Michel Rivard, David Tkachuk and John D. Wallace.

Contact information

General Information:
613-990-0088 or 1-800-267-7362

Email: ENEV@sen.parl.gc.ca

Mailing Address:
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1A 0A4

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