Yukon Energy needs clarity

Yukon Energy needs clarity Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski: Last week, the Yukon Utilities Board heard an application by Yukon Energy to increase electrical rates by 13 per cent. Part of the proceedings dealt with the difficulties in planning aro

Open letter to Premier Darrell Pasloski:

Last week, the Yukon Utilities Board heard an application by Yukon Energy to increase electrical rates by 13 per cent. Part of the proceedings dealt with the difficulties in planning around the electrical needs of large industrial customers such as mines.

In a jurisdiction with a large electrical grid such as in B.C., the consequences of a mine starting up or shutting down can be absorbed in the system. With a small generation base as we have in Yukon, these events cause financial chaos for the utility. Just think back to the financial problems caused to Northern Canada Power Commission and Yukon Energy by the ups and downs of the Faro mine.

The proceedings before the utility board showed that (1) at present, any new large industrial customer connecting to the grid will likely result in the burning of fossil fuels to produce a significant portion of the additional electricity required, (2) the additional electricity will cost significantly more than the cost of our present generation and (3) under the present statutory framework that obliges the utility to serve new customers, this will result in an involuntary transfer of the risk and cost of new generation equipment from the industrial customer’s shareholders to all Yukon ratepayers.

Let me suggest that the murky legal obligations on Yukon Energy present the utility with a difficult planning chore. The obligation to serve set out at section 106 of the Public Utilities Act should be amended to clearly set out that the obligation does not apply to large industrial customers of a certain size threshold that can be set by regulation. One just has to review the testimony of David Morrison, president of Yukon Energy, to see the difficulty of determining the scope of the obligation to serve.

You may also wish to consider whether the economic development mandate given the utility through its parent company under the Yukon Development Corporation Act and the policy directives under that act need clarification to make it clear that any direct or indirect subsidization of industrial customers is the bailiwick of the government, not the utility.

Clearing up the mandate for Yukon Energy will allow the utility to focus on keeping the lights on, rather than going through Mission Impossible planning exercises.

As Energy Minister Brad Cathers said the other day in the legislature in relation to electrical rates, “We’re focused on minimizing the financial risk to taxpayers and ratepayers from any and all decisions.” That’s a sensible starting point for any energy policy. Also part of that policy should be a clear recognition that there is no magic bullet that will allow the utility to provide cheap electricity to new customers, and that research into new forms of generation such as wind, solar and biomass requires a role for government where economic and environmental considerations can best be integrated.

Your comments would be appreciated.

Jack Cable

Whitehorse

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read