Let mines look after their own power needs

Let mines look after their own power needs Here we go again. Yukon Energy has signed a letter of intent to negotiate an agreement to supply Copper North Mining and its Carmacks Copper project with electricity when it gets approval to open its proposed m

Here we go again. Yukon Energy has signed a letter of intent to negotiate an agreement to supply Copper North Mining and its Carmacks Copper project with electricity when it gets approval to open its proposed mine.

For the past number of years Yukon Energy has not been able to meet peak demand during the winter months without turning on the diesel generators. The cost of diesel fuel is at least one-third more than hydro-generated power, and guess what?

We, the owners and long-term users of power, are subsidizing the mining companies with cheaper power than we are required to pay. The average Yukon household consumer pays 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, and mining companies are paying 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. How can this be fair?

Yukon Energy CEO David Morrison has stated a number of times that Yukon Energy is obligated to provide electricity if mining companies want to tie into the grid.

What Mr. Morrison fails to explain that, according to the Public Utilities Act under Section 33.1, “the board shall not require a public utility to construct, maintain or operate an extension of its existing service unless in the judgement of the board

a) the extension is reasonable and practical and will furnish sufficient business to justify the expense of its construction, maintenance and operation.”

May I underline the “expense of operation”? If we presently do not have enough generation capacity, then why are we adding more mines on to the system? We know from Yukon history that mining companies have a “short shelf life” depending on the price of minerals and worldwide economies.

Yukon mines must be self-sufficient in all their needs and especially with their need for large quantities of power. We are not obligated to supply power unless we have a large surplus.

Equating the additional power needs of Whistle Bend to what future mines will need is unfair. The development of Whistle Bend is a long-term investment whereas mining operations are usually three-to-10 year operations.

Have we not learned anything from Faro and other mines that have cost the Yukon consumer millions of dollars in infrastructure building and long-term operations?

Let’s get off this kick that we need to drain our already overworked power system so we can then justify the need for liquefied natural gas generation to meet all these needs. LNG is finite and will eventually not be available, as people in Inuvik have found out. They must now truck LNG or propane thousands of kilometres from the south to Inuvik. How practical is this?

Yukon Energy needs to look at long-term sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar, bio-mass, etc.

Let the mining industry look after its own electricity needs, unless they would like to help us develop sustainable energy.

Donald Roberts

Whitehorse