Think of the energy future
I would like to thank Roger Rondeau for initiating a timely public discussion.
The Yukon government started the Rate Stabilization Fund, a credit on your power bill, about eight years ago when the Faro mine shut down.
Since then, close to $30 million has been spent on this program (about $3.5 to $4 million per year).
The money goes to electricity consumers rather than to Yukon Energy and Yukon Electric (although they administer the fund), so they are not affected one way or the other.
It is my opinion that people are making choices that affect winter power demand (such as choosing electric heat) based on their subsidized power bills rather than on the true cost of power.
Winter peak power loads, even without the potential mines, have now grown to the point where Yukon Energy will have to spend money on new or refurbished generating capacity.
These costs will be passed on to us through our power bills.
An approach that reduces or limits the growth of the peak loads at a cost less than the cost to supply new capacity should be attractive.
This is demand-side management and, in my opinion, there are opportunities for cost-effective programs to do that.
(In addition, demand side management programs could also focus on increasing electricity consumption during the summer when we have most of the surplus hydro available).
Yukon Energy, Yukon Electric, and YTG (through the Energy Solutions Centre) would all have important roles to play in demand-side management programming.
If YTG considers the fund a dividend stemming from the ownership of Yukon Energy and Yukon Development Corporation, a public discussion on how this dividend should be paid out is merited.
My preferred option would be to use it on public electrical infrastructure that will have long-term future benefits.
For example, the $30 million spent to date could have paid for the upgrading of the diesels in Whitehorse and Faro, the installation of the third turbine in the Aishihik power plant and about half of the Carmacks to Stewart Crossing transmission line.
My second choice would be to have YTG send out a cheque to all Yukoners on an annual basis, shortly before Christmas, say.
If YTG does not consider the program a dividend, I would rather like to see the program terminated so it does not unintentionally drive up my future power bills, and instead have the money directed to the people who need it most — through appropriate social programs (what about a food bank?).
And yes, I would suggest that some of the money could go to demand-side management programs to help us save on our power bills too!
Now that I have put in my two cents worth, what do you, the public, think about this?