Hay River councillors will vote to replace the town’s current power distributor during a special council meeting Thursday night.

In December 2014, Hay River decided not to renew its contract with Northland Utilities to power the community – citing cost as a chief factor.

The company, owned by ATCO, has been distributing power in the community since 1951.

It also distributes power generated by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) to customers in Yellowknife, Ndilo and other NWT communities.

In May of last year, the town started asking for proposals from any and all power companies, sparking a fierce debate over how northern power is supplied and governed.

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Shortly after a request for proposals was issued, cabinet ministers threw their support behind NTPC, which subsequently bid for the contract.

This proved problematic for some MLAs, since the power corporation is owned by the territorial government. At the time, Northland even accused the government of trying to force them out of business.

Michael Miltenberger, who was the minister responsible for NTPC at the time, rejected those claims and reiterated that cost was the driving factor.

“We have the proof before us,” he said at the time. “You have one community at 31 cents per kilowatt [the price of power in Hay River, served by Northland, according to Miltenberger].

“You have two neighbouring communities at 21 cents per kilowatt [Fort Resolution and Fort Smith, served by NTPC].

“Can we effect a positive change? Yes, we can. I believe that we will significantly close that gap if that opportunity is presented to the power corporation.”

After reviewing proposals from interested parties, the town has deemed NTPC’s bid to be the most attractive, saying it will “provide the best opportunity for the town to reduce electricity rates for ratepayers.”

On Thursday night, councillors will vote on a motion allowing the town to enter into a franchise agreement with the power corporation for the supply and distribution of power.

The deal would become effective after November 30, which is when their current agreement with Northland is set to expire.

The motion also includes the provision that NTPC will buy the distribution infrastructure from the town at the same price that the town paid Northland for it.