Why do we need more power?

Why do we need more power? Re Yukon News article, What's next for YEC?: I read the above article and would like to comment on some points made by Keith Halliday. I agree with your analysis that giving control of our energy assets to the big conglomera

Re Yukon News article, What’s next for YEC?:

I read the above article and would like to comment on some points made by Keith Halliday.

I agree with your analysis that giving control of our energy assets to the big conglomerate, ATCO, would not be a wise decision.

They managed our electrical assets, through Yukon Electrical Company Ltd., for several years after we purchased them from the Northern Canada Power Commission.

When all was said and done, this proved not to be a great benefit to Yukoners. So why would we step back into this quagmire?

Swapping and selling of some assets, on the other hand, so we have one company to generate and transmit electricity and one company to distribute/market the power, does make sense to rid the system of redundancies and duplication which drive up the costs to customers.

I also agree that the root cause of the current political controversy is the need to raise future capital for new infrastructure (i.e. Mayo B and onward). ATCO would love to get their foot in the door, not for the piddly infrastructure and market we have now, but for the long term, when the need

grows for large scale hydro/and or coal with inter-ties to the outside world, as well as a natural gas pipeline and its ramifications.

However, I would like to debate the last half of your article, which sounds like a neoconservative document, where you analyze the need for major infrastructure of our power supply in the next 20 years.

I do not know where you got your facts about the need for an additional 1,750 gigawatt hours by 2029, but it certainly was not in the Yukon Energy 20 Year Resource Plan document.

Mayo B was not even on the spotlight in this document.

Do we even really need this project?

The only reason it is now on the radar is because there is a $71-million freebie from the feds, and political motives.

Let’s take a step back and look at our power needs.

We have not developed any power generation since the fourth wheel in Whitehorse in the ‘80s.

Why? Because we don’t need it.

As this is being written, we have surplus power on the grid and have had such since the Faro mine shut down, which took 40 per cent of the load. Yukon Electrical currently sells power to several government agencies and the chosen few private commercial customers at very cheap rates to get rid of some of this surplus; it is called secondary energy.

Yukon Energy also plans, in the very near future, on building the third wheel at Aishihik, which will provide another seven megawatts.

The major problem we have with our power supply is during peak hours of usage (this is a common occurrence with most grids), in the morning and evening (mostly during the winter) when everyone is home at the same time doing all their domestic duties.

At these times we may have a shortage in capacity.

This could be easily remedied by storing more water in Marsh Lake for the winter, but all the affluent cottage owners in the flood plain put a kibosh on that idea before it even got to the regulator.

What the companies have to do is figure out a way to measure and sell cheaper power during the day and night when there is a surplus, thus offering an incentive for customers to install timers to charge equipment or heat their water tanks during this period. And more opportunities for conservation initiatives (DSM-demand side management) need to be investigated and implemented

The utilities also have to adjust to individual customers/independent producers who want to put in a photovoltaic (sun energy) or small wind turbine or run-of-the-river systems, so this power can be sold to the grid when activated yet access power when these are not available (the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining).

Now for my dissenting opinion.

You state that our various governments used up all the infrastructure monetary reserve to subsidize rates under the Rate Stabilization Fund. Originally this fund was paid for by the government of the day and was then, theoretically, a subsidy.

When the Yukon Party took over the reins, they placed this funding on the backs of the Crown corporations, Yukon Energy and Yukon Development.

This, I would argue, would no longer be considered a subsidy, but a dividend back to ratepayers (Yukoners who truly own the corporations) who were paying escalated rates due to the closure of Faro and rampant diesel fuel costs.

This fund used up approximately one-third of the yearly profits out of the publicly owned corporations’ coffers, which left them with the rest to invest in infrastructure.

The real problem is not with providing rate stabilization, but the ever escalating bureaucracy and resulting costs at the Crown corporation level along with the duplication of staff and work in administering our electrical needs.

If the utility companies cut costs and offer affordable, reliable energy, we would not need rate stabilization.

It is truly ironic that all my right-wing friends who make this same argument, that we are using this valuable infrastructure money for a rate subsidy, are the first ones to bitch about the steady increase in their power bills.

Or the green left wingers who want the utilities to charge full cost for power to encourage conservation, but want the utilities or the rest of us to give them a grant (provide funding) to install a windmill at their cottage.

So, where does your (and, it appears, Premier Dennis Fentie’s) view, that we have this immediate need for more electrical generation, fit in?

Or do you know something we don’t, or is it the conservative mentality of “build it and they will come?”

All your talk about this great need for new power supply only wakes the utility elephants, like ATCO and Transalta, to roll over and swallow the mouse.

Roger Rondeau, president

Utilities Consumers’ Group

Whitehorse