As we move closer to the territorial election on October 11, I urge Yukoners to remember what has transpired over the past eight years of a Yukon Party government in terms of energy.
When the Yukon Party government took over in 2003, the three energy issues they pursued were: to dissolve the Energy Solutions Centre into a minor department in Energy, Mines and Resources, to pull the plug on any kind of research and development, and to restructure the YDC/YEC board.
These may seem like minor actions, but in the energy business even small things can make a difference because energy governs our lives.
The original intent of the Energy Solutions Centre was to promote demand-side management, alternative energy and energy efficiency.
The Yukon Energy Corporation is now scrambling to find solutions to its electrical energy shortfall. It is now hiring Outside consultants to do precisely what the Energy Solutions Centre was created to do.
At present, the corporation appears to be spending money on public relations (remember those big blue ads), charettes and consultants desperately scrambling for a fix to our seemingly insatiable taste for power.
Before the Yukon Party government, the corporation had an active research and development program studying heat pumps, wind, and other renewable energy sources.
The thinking was, in the late 1990s, that although the corporation had lost its biggest customer when Faro shut down, it could create customers for this excess power through the promotion of secondary sales and look into the heating and transportation sectors for new customers for its clean electricity.
When the Yukon Party government came into power, the corporation dropped all its research and development. This misguided decision has cost the territory dearly because, when there was money forthcoming from the feds for a green infrastructure project, the project that the corporation came up with was Mayo B, an overpriced and underpowered project. Now it is going after more drawdown on Mayo Lake to make its ill-conceived project pay.
It was presented before the Yukon Utilities Board review of Mayo B that a wind farm on Mt. Sumanik could have produced as much electricity as Mayo B for half the price.
Good research and development would have helped the corporation make a better choice for developing the Yukon’s energy future.
Lastly, and most disturbing, is the $100,000,000 debt the corporation is now responsible for.
This is a grim legacy for our children and grandchildren.
This decision to move ahead with Mayo B and the $100-million bond issue were done when the corporation had only four people on its board because the others had resigned over the ATCO scandal.
I am concerned with this kind of governance structure when such huge and far-reaching decisions are being made.
Back in the ‘90s it was felt that Yukon Development Corp. and Yukon Energy Corp. should have different CEOs and chairs, to give more balance to the decision-making process.
For at least the past five years, I think the development and energy corporations have had the same CEO, and it shows.
Eight years down the road, these actions have come home to roost with an unreliable and wobbly Yukon grid, a $100-million YDC debt and not enough electricity to sell from Mayo B to pay for the interest, Whitehorse and Dawson diesels running all winter, and Yukon taxpayers and ratepayers subsidizing cheap electricity for mines.