Was energy charrette a charade?

Open letter to Yukon Energy Corporation CEO David Morrison: This week marks a year since the Yukon Energy charrette. It was a good learning opportunity for many Yukoners.

Open letter to Yukon Energy Corporation CEO David Morrison:

This week marks a year since the Yukon Energy charrette. It was a good learning opportunity for many Yukoners. I feel, over the past year, charrette participants have gone out into the community with their new-found knowledge and shared information about these complex issues. I feel there is a greater understanding and appreciation for the process that YEC has to undertake when juggling the competing priorities and the struggle to come to the best decisions.

Knowledge can be a double-edged sword.

When I recently reviewed the final report of the charrette, I found huge disconnects between the results from the charrette and the resulting actions that YEC has been moving forward this year.

Just as an example, one of the exercises explored was an exploration of energy-supply option priorities in the near-term, mid-term and long-term. In each scenario there was a list of priorities that charrette participants had voted on.

I will list the top four of each year:

2015: hydro-enhancement, demand side management, wind, biomass

2025: solar, wind, liquefied natural gas, biomass

2050: solar, new hydro, biomass, demand side management

The three workshops that YEC has done as follow-up over the past year are biomass, waste to energy and liquefied natural gas.

I know there is a demand side management workshop planned for April but when your own pre-charrette survey found 89 per cent of Yukoners wanted to assume more responsibility toward energy conservation, it should have been given the same priority that the charrette participants gave it.

Your surveys also found 87 per cent want YEC to develop alternative energy.

Where is the solar workshop? The wind workshop? The geothermal/geoexchange workshop?

Waste to energy didn’t make one of the scenario priorities, and you’ve had a workshop for it.

As we’ve seen over the year, there are huge risks that are associated with energy planning. The Fukushima nuclear disaster happened days after the charrette finished. I remember a comment during the charrette, how the young people attending didn’t have a problem with nuclear, while us old people didn’t like it one bit. I hope the young people now understand what us old people were going on about.

I am very concerned to hear our premier touting LNG as the only option to diesel. Who is feeding him this misinformation? It certainly didn’t come from the charrette participants. The premier’s promotion of natural gas development of the Whitehorse Trough to solve all our energy woes worries me greatly.

Are we willing, as a society, to pollute the Yukon River basin when there are renewable energy options that are being ignored?

The energy charrette was an amazing opportunity. By bringing such a diverse set of people together to engage in the process of learning and wrestling with the competing issues, YEC showed strong leadership.

Unfortunately, it appears your leadership stalled somewhere short of actually doing anything.

I am ready now to proclaim that the energy charrette was indeed a charade. I have seen nothing over the past year that has shown me otherwise.

Sally Wright

Kluane Lake