Wind power trumps LNG

Wind power trumps LNG Open letter to the YESAB executive committee: We would like to suggest an alternative to Yukon Energy's LNG conversion project. Our alternative idea is for YEC to expand its wind energy supply and to use the wind energy in conjuncti

Open letter to the YESAB executive committee:

We would like to suggest an alternative to Yukon Energy’s LNG conversion project. Our alternative idea is for YEC to expand its wind energy supply and to use the wind energy in conjunction with electrical thermal storage (ETS) to replace heating oil, and reduce our need for diesel peaking.

First, in the spirit of expedience, we will choose a known and accessible wind farm site near the biggest load on the Yukon grid, the city of Whitehorse. Haeckel Hill already has a road, power line, two wind turbines and YEC has a land-use permit in place.

We suggest removing the smaller aging Bonus 150-kW wind turbine and replace it with a far larger turbine of 2.3 megawatts like the ones used at Diavik Diamond Mine in the N.W.T.

The other existing Vestas 660-kilowatt turbine can be left in place until we can afford to upgrade it. Haeckel Hill has room for two more 2.3-megawatt wind turbines. The expanded wind farm will have a total 7.56 megawatts of capacity, produce 16 gigawatt-hours a year and the cost should be $3.6 million per megawatt (assuming similar cost to Diavik) or $25 million. First Nations could be equity partners, local contractors will be employed to upgrade the road, transmission lines and build the foundations for the new turbines.

We will target roughly 1,200 homes and replace their oil furnaces with ETS units. This first phase will increase the annual electrical heating needs by about 15 gigawatt-hours. This will increase Yukon Energy’s revenues by $2.3 million annually (assuming $0.15/kWh). Local electrical businesses and furnace installers will be employed installing the new furnaces.

The wind project will diversify our renewable energy sources and enhance the existing hydro system, since wind energy is more prevalent in the winter. The ETS units will be interruptible and controlled from Yukon Energy’s expanded SCADA system, this will stabilize the grid, help reduce the daily electrical peaks and be a valuable tool for YEC to re-energize the grid in the case of power outages. It will also be cleaner and safer in case of winter power outages because the ETS units store heat.

Yukon Energy should replace their old diesel units with more efficient ones that are more suitable for peaking and short time usage. As a comparison, diesel units that are being bought by YECL presently are $1.5 million per megwatt, so YEC’s new diesels should only cost $12 million, rather than the $34 million proposed for the LNG system.

This is just the beginnings of an idea. We recognize that electrical generation, management and distribution is very complex, but we don’t think it is beyond the capabilities of engaged Yukoners to contribute, expand on and explore these opportunities. There are plenty of well educated people in the Yukon. Our classrooms are in the bush, office, ski trails, workshops, on the rivers and mountain passes. People who live here think about their impact on this beautiful place every day, and we want to be involved with managing those impacts.

Sally Wright and JP Pinard

Whitehorse

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