Energy injustice

Energy injustice Open letter to Yukon Public Utilities Board members: We recently constructed a "green" condominiumized three-plex here in Whitehorse and after much research made a decision to use electric energy as a way to heat the units. We are a two-

Open letter to Yukon Public Utilities Board members:

We recently constructed a “green” condominiumized three-plex here in Whitehorse and after much research made a decision to use electric energy as a way to heat the units.

We are a two- and sometimes three-person family. We purchased five Energy Star appliances and practice energy conservation in our home. We used more than 1,000 kilowatt hours during the cold spell and expect to use more than 1,000 kilowatt hours during the winter months.

We were quite dismayed to discover that Yukon Energy and the Yukon Electrical Company Limited both have applications before the Yukon Utilities Board that propose penalizing those consumers who have chosen an environmentally healthier alternative to the use of oil. Is seems antithetical for a business selling power to penalize those customers who wish to use it.

Additionally, it is discriminatory to charge customers different rates: businesses are not facing rate hikes and I believe that the energy being sold to the Minto mine is sold at a lower rate than to other customers.

It appears that the proposal being forwarded to the Yukon Utilities Board is proposing subsidizing one user and fining another for using the same product. The proposal specifically targets “second-block” residential users, making them bear the brunt of a shortage of electrical energy.

Yukon Energy seems to have the notion that those people using electrical energy to heat their homes are not conservation-minded. This is not true. If you heat with electrical energy, you will likely be in the “second-block” category and will be the target of their misguided proposal.

We feel that energy charges should be nondiscriminatory; if the current charges for energy are not high enough to cover costs, then the cost should be shared by all users of electrical power.

As well, if the problem is one of supply, then perhaps it’s time to be proactive and seriously look at other environmentally sound sources that we currently have the technology to develop—geothermal and additional hydro electric sources of energy immediately come to mind. Although the costs associated with the development of geothermal energy are huge, developing these sources would be a wise investment for the future, given the finite nature of oil reserves.

Electrical energy is, to date, the greenest option available to consumers here in Whitehorse, assuming the burning of diesel is not being used to produce it. Homeowners using oil are utilizing more net energy because the conversion of oil to energy is less efficient.

The cost of using energy-inefficient oil is currently being subsidized by the government and, in turn, the taxpayers because the roads used to transport oil in large tankers are maintained by the government. It seems contrary to rational thought to use taxpayers’ money to finance a less-than-efficient energy source.

Additionally, trucking in oil from a distant location instead of using locally produced energy has a direct negative impact on the environment.

We hope the Yukon Public Utilities Board will see the injustice in the proposal being put forward. It seems quite unfair to penalize consumers who are making conscious efforts to reduce their impact on the environment by using electrical energy.

Many current users and those who made plans to install electrical energy are now being held ransom by Yukon Energy and the Yukon Electrical Company Limited. We hope the board will turn down this proposal and come up with a more rational solution.

David MacLellan and Barbara Adam

Whitehorse