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This week’s mailbox: The Atlin Power Project

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The Atlin Power Project: Yukoners need energy diversity

The Yukon Liberal Government continues to rationalize the investment of now $310 million in the Atlin Power Project. This project will require a 100-km power line, will generate only 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy per year, and will supply about 2,500 homes.

There are other models of successful renewable energy projects all over Canada which demonstrate that Yukon Energy can do better in finding reliable, less expensive sources of energy. For example, ATCO Alberta has been investing billions in wind and solar projects that are producing low-cost renewable energy. In addition, a wind project geographically closer to the Yukon, Dawson Creek’s Bear Mountain Wind Park, produces about 145 GWh of energy annually (based on 35,000 homes the wind farm is reported to provide for), at a cost of only $200 million to build in 2009.

In 2015, Yukon Energy commissioned a Yukon Wind Site Inventory Report, describing five wind project sites, including the Mt. Sumanik site, that could generate over 40 GWh of energy per year. Even with today’s post pandemic cost increases and considering the need for hydro and gas generator back-up for times when the wind is not blowing, a wind project would be far less expensive to taxpayers than the proposed Atlin Power Project. A wind project would generate more power and would not require huge government subsidies (ultimately taxpayer dollars).

Yukoners Concerned does not agree that the proposed Atlin Power Project is an economical energy source. What is clearly missing in this government’s energy planning are large-scale wind farms on the many mountain tops along the Yukon grid. Our grid is currently hydro-centric and needs to diversify.

In this regard, Yukoners Concerned recognizes the investment of Chu Níikwän, the development arm of Kwanlin Dün First Nation, in developing a four-turbine wind project on Haeckel Hill which will provide power for about 650 homes, with scheduled commissioning in the fall of 2023. This is a significant start.

With costs ballooning out of control on the Atlin Power Project, rising from the original projection of $180 million to $230 in March and then to $310 million in October, this project has lost whatever viability it might have originally had. Investing ever-increasing amounts of money in a project that appears to have no bottom line is not the answer to Yukon’s need for more electrical energy. It is time to pull the plug on the Atlin Power Project.

As Yukon ratepayers, we have the right to ask our politicians not only to help us reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), but also to lower energy costs. We must ask YTG, Yukon First Nation governments, Yukon communities, and Yukoners to invest in major, diversified, energy projects.

If you are concerned about this government’s plan to invest $310 million in an energy project that will generate only a fraction of the Yukon’s energy needs, please write to your MLA.

Donald J Roberts

Chair, Yukoners Concerned