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Nihtat Gwich’in Council cancels court challenge to wind project near Inuvik

The Nihtat Gwich’in Council has dropped a court challenge to a proposed wind turbine that could replace costly diesel energy in Inuvik with climate-friendly wind power.

In a document filed with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories Monday, the Nihtat Gwich’in Council, which represents Gwich’in in Inuvik, “wholly discontinues” the judicial review it requested last November.

The court challenge had been filed last Nov. 27, the same day the Gwich’in Land and Water Board approved a water licence and land use permit for the Inuvik Wind Project. The Nihtat Gwich’in Council had hoped to overturn that decision.

In its application to the court, the Nihtat Gwich’in Council said NT Energy Corporation failed to establish its right to occupy the land. The council argued the land had been set aside as a reindeer grazing reserve as part of 1993 agreement.

The council also said the N.W.T. government had failed to adequately consult on the project.

The wind turbine was first proposed in 2018, and was initially expected to be completed by the fall of 2020. The current timeline is unclear.

NT Energy, a sister company of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, had planned to erect a single wind turbine, 75 to 100 meters tall, in an area known as Highpoint, 12 kilometres east of Inuvik.

The project was designed partly to reduce the territory’s greenhouse gas emissions, and partly to lower the cost of electricity in Inuvik. It has increased dramatically since the use of natural gas from the Ikhil Well north of Inuvik was restricted in 2012, and the town started to rely on diesel and liquified natural gas trucked up the Dempster Highway.

The project will also include an energy storage system that will ensure a steady output of power even as wind fluctuates.

The federal and territorial governments committed $40 million to the project in 2018.