Open letter to Dennis Fentie, minister responsible for Yukon Energy Corporation:
Wednesday morning at the start of the business day, we experienced yet another large power outage on the Whitehorse-Aishihik grid.
Several thousand Yukoners were unable to carry out their duties while their employers were paying their wages. Many thousands of dollars were lost to those employers for that one outage.
Restaurants and other businesses without backup power were out of pocket for lost business. Some stoplights ceased to function, requiring the RCMP to be called out to regulate traffic. I assume that there were other costs associated with the outage.
You don’t need to be a mathematician to calculate that over the course of the last few years these constant outages have cost Yukoners a bundle. Over and above the dollar cost, many homeowners have gone through the cold weather, wondering whether their homes were going to freeze up.
Yukon Energy has publicly stated that maintenance had slipped over the years. Isn’t it time that government got involved? The government has the power under s. 18 of the Public Utilities Act to order the Public Utilities Board to “conduct any investigations make any reports Ã‰ that the minister may request.”
Let me suggest that you request the board investigate why the system was allowed to deteriorate, what is the long-range plan to restore reliability and what is going to be the effect on rates.
Judging from the board’s order of September 8, relating to the last general rate application, service quality indicators were not part of the application, but the issue was raised in the hearings Yukon Energy has been asked to provide key performance indicators relating to transmission, generation and distribution at the next rate hearing, sometime down the road.
While I respect the efforts of the board. I believe a thorough, more timely investigation of reliability needs to be carried out by the board in the near future, so that businesses and homeowners can decide whether to incur the costs of installing back-up power.
I look forward to your view.