the ndps dim plan

New Democrat Leader Liz Hanson recently unveiled her energy platform. While it contains some nice sentiment, the plan falls far short of meeting the territory's energy needs into the next decade.

New Democrat Leader Liz Hanson recently unveiled her energy platform.

While it contains some nice sentiment, the plan falls far short of meeting the territory’s energy needs into the next decade.

The plan is simple, to the point of being dim.

One wonders, in fact, if any hard thought was put into it at all.

The New Democrats want to limit the generation of dirty, fossil-fuel-powered energy and expand the territory’s use of renewables.

It sounds good. Who doesn’t want to tap clean energy before the dirty stuff?

But wishing to do something won’t turn on your TV or power the next copper mine.

A few months ago, Yukon Energy held a series of meetings on power at Mt. McIntyre.

There, experts discussed biomass energy, thermal, diesel, geothermal, wind, waste-to-energy, natural gas, solar, nuclear, hydroelectric … a dizzying mix of options.

Some were clean, some were dirty but not as dirty as other alternatives. Some were awful, but cheap and easy. And that’s the key to this whole problem.

They were all part of the solution.

There is no silver bullet.

This society consumes power like no other. Demand-side management will lessen the problem, but it won’t solve it.

We have to burn diesel, but it is far too expensive and environmentally damaging to meet our needs for long.

The Japanese Fukishima reactor disaster has blunted enthusiasm for nuclear, but it remains a viable and essential energy source for Western nations.

Geothermal may work in some areas. So will building solar and other small-scale projects into public buildings and homes.

But none of these will be a complete solution in themselves.

We are currently a hydro-powered jurisdiction, and it is deeply rooted in our history. But that’s only because Ottawa invested in expensive hydro infrastructure. The territory could never have built it on its own.

And there, nothing has changed. Except the demand.

We are now in the situation where our power needs are starting to outstrip the supply largely built by Ottawa 60 years ago.

The NDP plan promises to keep the utility locally owned and it talks in ambiguous terms about investments in generation and transmission to meet demand and stop outages.

But it is short of specifics. And its singleminded focus on renewables and local ownership is naive.

Our society needs power, and, because of our geographic location, we require more of it, per capita, than most southern regions.

The territory can dink around with small-scale stopgaps and conservation, and talk platitudes, but northerners are energy pigs.

If we’re going to live here, growing our population and economy, we need power. A lot more than we currently produce.

It will take generous investment from the federal government and our provincial neighbours to meet our residential and industrial demand into the future. We can’t afford to do it on our own.

Ignoring this reality is what we’ve done for years. And it’s not going to solve anything.

We ignored the housing problem for more than eight years, and look where it got us.

At some point, and probably sooner rather than later, the territory is going to have to join the North American grid. And, yes, that is going to have profound implications for the future of our little energy utility and, ultimately, our territory.

It may take investment with ATCO. It may involve a few billions in federal investment.

The Fentie government poisoned the issue by sneaking around, violating the public trust by negotiating in secret. But that doesn’t mean exploring alternatives to the current model, in full view of the public, doesn’t have merit.

We should start discussing the ramifications openly and candidly – immediately.

The territory faces a very grave power crisis, one more complicated and with far greater ramifications than the current housing problem.

Contrary to the NDP plan, the sooner society starts weighing the hard choices, and there are many – nuclear, diesel, biomass, waste heat, natural gas, tapping the southern grid or simply reverting to a 1890 society with woodstoves, steamboats and kerosene lamps – the faster the territory’s looming energy crisis will be alleviated.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read