I am pleased to hear Yukon political leaders talking about connecting my home territory to British Columbia through an electrical grid connection.
There are many benefits of this action.
In the next few years, the Yukon is going to require around 350 megawatts of electricity to power three new mines that may come into production. Currently, Yukon’s electrical grid can only produce around 142 megawatts.
As most Yukoners may know, your grid is an independent one and not part of the larger North American electrical grid system.
My name is Gordon Loverin and I grew up in the Yukon and was once part of the media industry there.
For the past 11 years I have operated a successful media production company in North Vancouver. My client list is predominantly the mining industry.
Today I am also one of the co-chairs of the Northwest Transmission Line Coalition, the group which began a lobby effort nearly six years ago to get the power line built from Terrace, BC, to Bob Quinn on Highway 37.
Even though the line has been approved by both the federal and provincial governments, I believe the work for our group is not yet complete.
I am very supportive of extending the line to hook up with the Yukon.
Numbers are being tossed around and the $1.5 to $2 billion figure is for a 500-kilovolt line from Bob Quinn to Teslin.
I have asked some powerline construction companies and they say a 287-kilovolt line would cost around $800 million to build. I think this would be a much better plan at the outset to meet the new energy needs in the Yukon and those of northwest BC. A 287-kilovolt line will support 900 megawatts of electricity. Enough, in my opinion, to meet the electric needs in the immediate future for both regions.
As demand increases, it would be simpler to twin the connection with BC.
It should be noted the line may actually extend a further 90 kilometres north along Highway 37 to Tatogga Lake. Discussions are on between a mining company and BC Hydro that could see that become part of the construction plan.
According to an estimated cost of $1.2 million dollars per kilometre, that could take almost $108 million dollars off the price of connecting the Yukon. Now the cost of a 287-kilovolt line becomes $692 million dollars.
I believe there is a need to do a study of the feasibility and impacts and benefits of connecting the Yukon.
However, I think the study should focus on the cost of the line and the socioeconomic impacts to the region. Since First Nations make up a majority of the residents in northern BC and the route that would go through Kaska and Tlingit lands in Yukon, emphasis on the benefits should take those communities into a higher consideration.
I am also extremely supportive of an ownership plan that would involve the Yukon and BC governments and all the First Nations along the route, in fact all the final land claim settlement groups would be even better. An ownership group that brings their capital into the line would, in my opinion, be a wise move that would ensure successful construction, increased federal investment and would serve to create revenue for First Nations for generations to follow. This would become low-impact revenue from green energy sources. It would also stimulate independent power projects in the Yukon because they could now sell their power beyond the territory.
I have invited Yukon Energy to join our coalition and I extend this invitation to all First Nation governments, their development corporations and mining and supply and service companies.
Establishing a more northern membership base is crucial towards moving this idea forward. Its success comes from depoliticizing the grid connection and putting it into the hands of those who see the benefits for our communities and our future generations, native and nonnative alike.
The North is a not an isolated region and has a place in the economy of North America, both to benefit from and to bring benefit to.
Together let’s roll up our sleeves and get on with the task of securing our futures.
Gordon Loverin, co-chair
Northwest Transmission Line Coalition