Hydro project shortlist announced

The Yukon Development Corporation has shortlisted 10 sites as possible locations for the territory's next hydro dam. The corporation has hired Midgard Consulting Inc.

The Yukon Development Corporation has shortlisted 10 sites as possible locations for the territory’s next hydro dam.

The corporation has hired Midgard Consulting Inc. to evaluate Yukon’s need for new hydro power and recommend one or more projects.

The selected sites are located on the Stewart, Hess, Pelly, Teslin, and Frances rivers, and are located closest to the communities of Mayo, Pelly Crossing, Whitehorse, Ross River and Watson Lake.

Over the next year engineers will further evaluate the potential of these sites to meet the needs of the Yukon, and produce several technical reports on how well they match the territory’s future power needs and the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

The Yukon Development Corporation plans to complete a business case recommending one or more of the projects to the Yukon government in a year’s time.

Midgard’s most recent evaluation of Yukon’s future energy needs found that the territory will require an additional 11 megawatts of reliable winter capacity by 2035, and 31 megawatts by 2065.

That probably will mean focusing on projects that provide the most power over the winter months, when the difference between Yukon’s demand for power and supply of power is expected to be greatest.

The Whitehorse hydro facility, for example, has a potential capacity of 40 megawatts, but only reliably produces 24 megawatts of power in the winter time, when water levels are low.

The Aishihik hydro facility, on the other had, was designed with winter power in mind. It has a potential capacity of 37 megawatts, and it can run at full capacity through the winter time.

All of the shortlisted projects will have environmental impacts if built, said Peter Helland with Midgard at a technical briefing this week.

“No project is perfect,” he said.

The key will be to find the project that best balances meeting the power needs of the territory with minimal negative impacts.

The trick is to “find that sweet spot,” he said.

One of the major challenges will be to manage impacts to the fisheries, he said.

All of the sites have been identified as being good fish habitat. Whatever location is picked, managing the fisheries risk will likely have to involve some solution to get fish from one side of the facility to the other.

The next round of public talks on the project are expected to be scheduled for some time in May.

Visit nextgenerationhydro.ca to learn more about the technical work done to date or get in contact with the engagement team.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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