Bellekeno burns up diesel

Heavy power usage at the Bellekeno silver mine has forced the Yukon Energy Corporation to burn hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel to feed the Yukon's northern grid.

Heavy power usage at the Bellekeno silver mine has forced the Yukon Energy Corporation to burn hundreds of thousands of litres of diesel to feed the Yukon’s northern grid.

Yukon Energy will burn four times as much diesel this year on the Dawson City-Mayo electrical grid than it usually does, because of the mine.

“We’ve been running diesel anyway over the last two years,” said Janet Patterson, the corporation’s spokesperson. “But we’re burning more diesel than we have had to in the past.”

A lot more.

The northern grid is usually supplied by hydroelectric power from the Mayo dam – currently undergoing an expansion.

In 2008, Yukon Energy burned 119,000 of diesel to generate power the dam couldn’t provide.

Last year, they burned 138,500 litres.

Those numbers are puny compared to the diesel Yukon Energy expects to burn by the end of December – around 550,000 litres.

That’s 11 B-trains (double 18-wheelers) filled with diesel.

The cost puts a major strain on the utility’s books.

It costs around 10 cents a megawatt to make power from hydro and 30 cents a megawatt to make it from diesel.

Yukon Energy knew it was going to be an expensive year because of Bellekeno.

They prepared for the extra demand and adjusted rates accordingly, said Patterson.

People won’t see any rate jumps – the diesel cost is already worked into the utility’s finances, she said.

Yukon Energy and Alexco, the mine’s owner, signed a power purchase agreement in September.

The price the mine pays for power is approximately 10.5 cents per kilowatt hour, says a Yukon Energy news release from that month.

It fluctuates depending on how stressed the grid is when the mine needs extra power.

There’s a fixed charge of almost $7,300 per month and then an additional peak charge for when power demand is high.

Yukon Energy was not able to answer whether it loses money or makes a profit from Bellekeno when the high diesel costs are considered.

The utility does not break things down that way, said Patterson.

A more detailed breakdown of the mine’s cost could not be determined before press time.

Until the Yukon’s two grids are connected, Bellekeno will put a heavy burden on the Mayo-Dawson line.

The total demand on the grid is around 6.5 megawatts, with Bellekeno sucking about 1.5 megawatts of that.

Mayo B can only produce around five megawatts, leaving Dawson City’s five diesel generators to pick up the rest.

Worse, early ice formation on the Mayo River has curbed the dam’s power production.

Instead of five megawatts, it can only provide four.

“That is adding to the need for diesel,” said Patterson.

The heavier reliance on diesel will remain until the grid is connected with the Yukon’s southern grid, which has two major hydro dams on it.

The Pelly Crossing connection is expected to happen in April or May, said Patterson.

After that, the Mayo dam expansion – known as Mayo B – will add another five to 10 megawatts to the united grid.

At the moment, only two of Dawson City’s diesel generators are fired up.

Those diesels are feeding power to Dawson while the Mayo dam is servicing Bellekeno, said Patterson.

It helps reduce the amount of energy loss on the transmission line.

Yukon Energy is also using diesel on the southern grid due to the recent cold snap.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Silver rules out HST, layoffs and royalty changes

Yukon’s financial advisory panel has released its final report

City of Whitehorse budgets $30M for infrastructure over four years

‘I think we’re concentrating on the most important things’

Yukon community liaison for MMIWG inquiry fired

Melissa Carlick, the Whitehorse-based community liaison officer for the national Missing and… Continue reading

Yukon man holds no grudge after being attacked by bison

‘The poor guy was only trying to fend off someone who he knew was trying to kill him’

Straight and true: the story of the Yukon colours

Michael Gates | History Hunter Last week, I participated in the 150th… Continue reading

Get ready to tumble: Whitehorse’s Polarettes to flip out at fundraiser

‘There’s a mandatory five-minute break at the end, just so people don’t fall over’

Alaska’s governor goes to China

There are very different rules for resource projects depending on which side of the border you’re on

Yukon survey shows broad support for legal pot

But there’s no consensus on retail and distribution models

Yukon government releases survey on the territory’s liquor laws

Changes could include allowing sale of booze in grocery stores

Get family consent before moving patients to other hospitals: NDP critic

‘Where is the respect and where is the dignity?’

Bill C-17 passes third reading in House of Commons

The bill, which will repeal controversial amendments made to YESAA by Bill S-6, will now go to Senate

White Pass and Yukon Route musical chugs on without director

The cast and crew of Stonecliff are pushing forward without Conrad Boyce, who went on medical leave

Most Read