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Iqaluit Smart Grid

Lead Proponent:  Qulliq Energy Corporation
Location:  Iqaluit, NU
ecoEII Contribution:  $1,350,000
Project Total:  $ 2,720,000

Project Background

Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) is a territorial corporation that is 100% owned by the Government of Nunavut, and operates at arm’s length from the government.  QEC is the only generator and distributor of electrical energy in Nunavut, delivering electricity to approximately 14,400 customers across Nunavut.  The corporation operates 25 stand-alone diesel power plants in 25 communities, with a total installed capacity of 76,848 kW.  Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is the largest and fasting growing community in Nunavut.  It represents more than 25% of QEC’s customer base totalling over 3,500 customers.

Fuel is by far the most significant component of the cost of diesel powered electricity.  Recognizing the need to explore technologies that have the potential to improve fuel efficiency, QEC proposed the project “Iqaluit Smart Grid”.  The project was awarded $1.351M from ecoEII to demonstrate smart grid technologies in Canada’s Arctic.  Development of smart grid infrastructure brings about the opportunity to improve system efficiency and reliability, and facilitates the integration of distributed renewable energy resources.  QEC had completed an upgrade of Iqaluit’s distribution system to 25kV in 2012.  In the coming years, new renewable energy resources are planned to be added to QEC's power generation mix, requiring innovative smart grid technologies to ensure interoperability with existing diesel generators.


Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that facilitates two-way communication between utilities and customers - it is a key component of any smart grid initiative.  AMI enables real time measurement and analysis of customer energy consumption, monitors energy flows and adjusts the electrical system to changes in energy supply and demand (such as through load control). 

QEC implemented an AMI system for its customers in Iqaluit.  QEC customers were informed and notified prior to, during, and after smart meter installations through letters, notices and social media feeds (including news releases).  Over 4,000 smart meters were installed in QEC customer’s homes throughout Iqaluit.  Along with the smart meters, QEC also installed a data collection system which included: a specialized transformer used by the smart meters to read power line carrier signals, a server where smart meter data are stored, and customized software that allows data to be transmitted between the smart meter database (Command Center) and QEC’s billing system (Great Plains).  QEC’s Customer Service and IT Departments identified and implemented a solution that seamlessly integrates Command Center with Great Plains.  Moreover, a new power line communications (PLC) system was installed to enable better control and monitoring of all its systems, provide situational awareness including detecting inefficiencies and disturbances, as well as facilitate power quality initiatives.

In a project running in parallel (Nunavut SCADA), a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system was designed, hardware and software procured and a Master Terminal Unit (MTU) was installed in QEC’s control centre in Iqaluit.  The regional SCADA and Computerized Maintenance and Management System (CMMS) systems were tied together in order for data to be recorded and transferred to a common server and database.

Benefits to Canada

Iqaluit Smart Grid is the first system of its kind operating in the Canada’s Arctic, paving the way for future replication in other arctic communities.  Reductions in diesel fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency gains and energy savings will benefit arctic communities and Canada as a whole.

Next Steps

Performance of the Iqaluit Smart Grid will be monitored for 5 years following the end of the project to determine if the target metrics (1-2% demand reduction and 1% energy savings) are met.

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