Investigation planned after 20-hour power outage in Tulita, N.W.T.

Tulita, N.W.T. in 2021. The community was without power from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon.  (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)
Tulita, N.W.T. in 2021. The community was without power from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon. (Anna Desmarais/CBC - image credit)

An investigation will get underway shortly into a power outage over the weekend in Tulita, N.W.T., that lasted for more than 20 hours.

Electricity and running water returned at approximately 5:45 p.m. Sunday, according to the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC). The outage was first reported Saturday evening at 9 p.m.

Doug Prendergast, a spokesperson for NTPC, said the problem was related to a wiring issue underneath the hamlet's power plant. The exact cause of the outage remains unclear, though he speculated it could be anything from rodents, to a gradual shift in the structure of the aging building.

An investigation will be done, as per NTPC policy.

Prendergast said he's proud of his team's resourcefulness to get the power restored, but said there were lessons learned.

"We were able to find a solution. It was unfortunate the outage lasted as long as it did."

A lack of parts in the community and a pilot shortage delayed a solution until a plane could be chartered Sunday morning. Parts were flown in from Norman Wells, N.W.T., courtesy of Imperial Oil, a partner of NTPC.

Pendergast said NTPC will have to go in and make better repairs, but there is no definitive plan for a permanent solution.

The hamlet opened Chief Albert Wright School to the public during the outage as the building was equipped with a back-up generator. Residents were able to use washrooms and had access to drinking water.

Tulita Dene Band Chief Frank Andrew said the situation was unique for young people.

"It was like the olden days," he said, referring to his upbringing before the internet or cell phones.

Although inconvenient, residents seemed in good spirits keeping busy with cookouts and group activities. Andrew said food spoilage was an early concern as freezers lost power, but in the end — and thanks to some cooler weather — there was little damage overall.