It would be nice if the territory were striding towards energy self-sufficiency. But it’s not.
At best, it is staggering towards the target.
At worst … it’s totally flummoxed by the issue and is putting on its best poker face.
We’ll let you decide.
“A lot of hard work has been done over the last year by many Yukoners to put together this strategy,” said the territory’s Energy czar Brad Cathers in his introduction to the government’s recently released Energy Strategy for the Yukon.
Officials researched the energy sector, held a workshop and consulted with about six dozen people during the process, noted Cathers.
The result is a 28-page document, including three appendices.
“With this release, the government is following through on its commitment to develop a strategy to address Yukon’s energy needs, for now and for the future.”
So, how will it do this?
By building a “sustainable and secure energy sector.”
By “developing and using energy resources to meet Yukon energy needs and generate benefits for Yukon people.”
And all this will be done sustainably.
And securely. And, of course, self-sufficiently.
Benefits will be “optimized,” and energy and climate-change policies will be co-ordinated.
The Yukon will be a leader and a partner.
Energy will be used efficiently, states the strategy, which is printed on 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper.
Why will energy be used efficiently?
The strategy is clear: “By using energy more efficiently and conserving it, fewer resources will be required to meet energy needs.”
Remember, it adds, “efficiency is about using resources more effectively to meet energy needs.”
And, of course, “conservation reduces the need for energy.”
And “efficiency and conservation will bring tremendous benefits for Yukon. Reduced energy use will provide new capacity to meet the growing demand. Using less energy can result in lower energy costs and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.”
And don’t forget, “energy efficiency initiatives often create positive economic benefits.”
Of course, “efficiency and conservation will have the greatest impact if governments, businesses and individuals focus on measures that reduce energy consumption for heating and transportation.”
You can also change your light bulbs, added the strategy.
There are hard energy targets in Cathers’ incisive report.
They are not ambitious.
For example, the government will increase the Yukon’s renewable energy supply by 20 per cent by 2020.
Renewable energy currently makes up 17 per cent of the territory’s power supply. So the territory is looking to increase renewable energy to 20.4 per cent of the territory’s current supply.
We’re talking a bump of 200 terajoules of energy—Â enough to heat about 600 homes for the winter.
That’s not bad, but represents a single turbine at Aishihik. Something the territory is scheduled to complete in two years.
So the renewable energy target is not a particularly ambitious goal over the next 11 years.
The government’s focus seems to be on new energy sources.
Like coal-bed methane.
In a single, ambiguous bullet point, it notes the government will develop a “policy framework” for this controversial energy source, and also for straight coal.
The public will be shown the framework before any developer is handed their permits, according to the strategy.
Of course, both are considered major sources of pollution.
It’s not clear how they mesh with the strategy’s stated goal of being environmentally responsible.
But the Yukon’s oil and gas resources will be tapped “responsibly.”
The Yukon is “engaged in efforts to facilitate the development of oil and gas resources.”
The government’s top priority “is to ensure exploration and development results in local benefits.” And that’s reassuring. Far better than, say, Alberta’s approach.
If the Yukon is successful, local fuel could reduce the volume of fuel imports. This would, according to the strategy, save Yukoners money and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
So, to achieve this, the government will update “best practices” for development, “consult stakeholders” and “work with industry and other governments.”
The question, of course, is, does this strategy chart a course for the future?
Or simply gesture, casually, in several directions?
From page 22: “The government will need to make choices about how to demonstrate leadership and build partnerships.
“The government will work to ensure these choices will reflect the direction provided by this energy strategy.”
“The overall objective is that Yukon’s choices about short-term priorities move towards the long-term vision.”
And on we stagger. (Richard Mostyn)