Don’t subsidize industrial power connections

After reading a recent column by Keith Halliday regarding Yukon Energy Corporation’s 20-year resource plan and article by Maura Forrest regarding the Canadian Electrical Agency, I would like to wade into the debate.

After reading a recent column by Keith Halliday regarding Yukon Energy Corporation’s 20-year resource plan and article by Maura Forrest regarding the Canadian Electrical Agency, I would like to wade into the debate.

Mr. Halliday’s premise that YEC’s new plan is impeccably researched is not entirely the case. There was no research in this plan about the use of more wood burning stoves to heat homes, as well as wood stove in-line hot water conversions as an alternative solution, especially in the outlying communities. Heating water using electricity is one of the biggest hits on every consumer’s bill, as well as a major peak-time draw from the system. Neither YEC, nor ATCO have any desire to acknowledge this as a conservation measure, as it would likely hurt their bottom line.

The YEC’s job is to look at reliability first and then affordability as it has to follow certain criteria to receive regulatory approval. For this, it could receive a passing grade. But you don’t need a big report to know that we will continue to require fossil fuel back-up power both for reliability and the best bang for our short-term buck.

The article coming out of the CEA president’s speech indicated that any transition to electric heat and transportation would require government initiatives and funding. The Utilities Consumers’ Group has been contesting this for years. This type of incentive is not the mandate of the utility, but a government policy direction. It should not be paid for by the standard ratepayer.

As for new mining projects, YEC argues it is obligated to serve any new customer in proximity to the grid. But it concedes, for example, that the present Keno transmission line is not reliable nor suitable for industry. Therefore, the Eagle gold mine must pay its fair share of the replacement line. Minto paid for a share of the construction of a new grid line as well as all of the spur. Minto mine made profits from the beginning. The rest of the investment must come from economic development as it is part of a government commitment to a stimulus platform.

There is also an immediate need for the Yukon government to reform policies that absolve industry from financial responsibility for new essential generation, including back-up requirements. Again, why should routine ratepayers be on the hook for this when it is the mines’ demand for new power being the major driver?

Roger Rondeau


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