Together the Yukon Electrical Co. and Yukon Energy Corp. plan to spend $6 million helping customers cut back on their power use.
This plan for “demand-side management” is part of Yukon Electrical’s May 27 application to increase electrical rates, and appears to be responding to a 2009 direction from Yukon’s Utility Board that they do so.
The Yukon NDP Official Opposition wants to see demand-side management programs in the context of a comprehensive, and renewable energy plan, rather than a piecemeal approach.
Targeting small users such as homeowners with light bulb and block heater refunds does not go far enough. The plan developed by Yukon Energy and Yukon Electrical needs to immediately target all users, including the biggest users: industry, space heating and transportation.
Rebates for consumer products, while important to individuals, do not go far enough in addressing Yukon’s sustainable energy future. Industry use, space heating and transportation are the issues that need real attention. Demand-side management programs must apply to both residential and industrial customers at the same time.
Yukon Electrical’s approach seems contradictory in that, on the one hand, the company wants to offer rebates for customers buying certain products, while on the other hand the same company aims to increase Yukon’s long-term dependence on fossil fuels by transforming existing diesel generators to burn natural gas.
Yes, consumers need to shift their patterns of energy usage. A shift also has to happen in energy production; it is time to develop renewable sources of energy. Our energy future requires us to plan for the reduction of our dependence on all fossil fuels. Renewable energy planning is the context in which demand-side management should be happening.
Demand-side management isn’t a new concept. Discussions in Yukon about its importance date back as far as a 1995 public conference called “Energy for Tomorrow.” This conference was hosted by the Yukon Council on the Economy and the Environment, a forum regrettably abandoned by the Yukon Party government.
Demand-side management has also been featured in Yukon Energy’s 2006, 20-year resource plan, in various energy strategy workshops and in municipal initiatives. All with little to no action directed and mandated by the Yukon Party government.
The Yukon NDP will continue to advocate for a comprehensive renewable energy strategy; a strategy which integrates demand side management; a strategy which incorporates a shift to diverse renewable power sources; a strategy which reduces our dependence on all fossil fuels and a strategy which plans for a sustainable energy future.
Kate White and Jim Tredger,
Yukon NDP Official Opposition