New power company stepping into the fray

There's a new player in Yukon's power industry. NU-Line, a powerline company out of Thorsby, Alberta, has set up shop in Whitehorse in an area traditionally dominated by Arctic Power, a company that does pole line construction around the territory.

There’s a new player in Yukon’s power industry.

NU-Line, a powerline company out of Thorsby, Alberta, has set up shop in Whitehorse in an area traditionally dominated by Arctic Power, a company that does pole line construction around the territory.

NU-Line, which has been around since 1997, has primarily provided electricity to minesites, but is looking to branch out into other areas of power supply.

It set up shop last February, but has kept a low profile since then. NU-Line was “ill-managed” by a previous employer and wasn’t able to make much of an impact, explained Ted Hayes, safety representative and company administrator.

So NU-Line instead focused on “kidnapping” Bob Gilchrist from Independent Electric and Controls Ltd. and crowning him its new manager. Gilchrist is considered a top gun in the industry that he’s been working in for the last 15 years, said Hayes.

NU-Line is hoping Gilchrist will enable it to muscle into an industry that is providing more opportunities for small players, such as themselves.

“This is an area (NU-Line) wants to grow in, the industry is just getting that big, with infrastructure demands,” said Gilchrist.

“A competitive edge is good to give everyone else a run for their budgetary money.”

However, they are only contractors and don’t have the ability or resources to distribute power in the same way Yukon Energy Corp. and Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. now do.

They just want to bite off a chunk of the surplus work that’s already being contracted out to these players.

Working under Yukon Energy, they might be doing such things as service and maintenance throughout the territory in addition to setting up powerlines and providing diesel generation to minesites.

Offering similar services to Arctic Power means the energy companies have more choice.

“It’s a benefit for the customer,” said Gilchrist, explaining contract prices will likely go down as a result of the competition.

He points out that his old company, Independent Electric and Controls Ltd., is also considering stepping into the same market.

Given the territory’s aged power lines, there will be a great deal of service work to be done in the future, he said.

Even the Whitehorse-to-Faro line, which is relatively new, is one example of a line that will likely need upgrading and repairs in a few years.

And, with the possibility of more mines opening up in the future, such as Mactung, NU-Line is confidant it will have business.

“We plan to stay here for the long term,” said Hayes.

With only two employees in the Yukon so far (down south NU-Line has 23) the company still faces several hurdles before it can start subcontracting.

The company needs to complete the necessary paperwork to show that it’s in good standing before it can work for a company like ATCO. It also needs to hire electricians and linemen.

Gilchrist wants to complete this before the end of 2010.

Right now, they’re still not a real threat in the eyes of their competitors, Arctic Power.

“They’ve had their office in Whitehorse for a year, but they haven’t done any work yet,” said an Arctic Power administrator.

“They still don’t exist, as far as we’re concerned.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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