Ben Power, Solvest Inc. vice-president, from left, Andrew Hall, Yukon Energy president and CEO, and Ranj Pillai, energy, mines and resources minister, announce Solvest’s one-megawatt, large-scale solar project in Whitehorse on July 13. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Construction of Yukon’s largest to date solar project will begin in August

Project expected to generate enough power for 153 homes

A one-megawatt solar energy project being built by Solvest Inc. will be the largest solar array in the North, officials say.

It will feature 4,000 solar modules installed on 2.6 hectares of land off the North Klondike Highway

The project and the electricity purchase agreement for the power that will be generated and sold to Yukon Energy was announced at a press conference outside the Solvest Inc. office in Marwell on July 13.

Officials from Solvest and Yukon Energy were on-hand along with energy, mines and resources minister Ranj Pillai.

Under the agreement, Yukon Energy will purchase energy generated from the solar farm for 25 years beginning at a rate of 15.8 cents per kilowatt hour with inflationary adjustments in future years.

“By 2030, our goal is to have more than 97 per cent of the electricity generated on the Yukon grid, on average, to come from renewable sources,” Yukon Energy Corporation president and CEO Andrew Hall said. “In addition to the renewable projects we are building on our own, entering into these types of agreements with independent power producers and purchasing locally-owned and generated renewable electricity helps us reach our renewable electricity target and build a sustainable energy future in Yukon.”

The purchase agreement falls under the Yukon government’s independent power production policy’s standing offer program, which allows independent producers like Solvest to sell energy back to the grid.

“This is what we’ve wanted to see and it’s happening,” Pillai commented, after highlighting a number of other solar projects Solvest has been involved with including the installation of a 940-kW solar array owned by the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in Old Crow that’s saving approximately 190,000 litres of diesel every year.

Solvest has established itself as a solar energy leader in the North, Pillai said, highlighting its work on 340 projects in the Yukon along with 77 in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and more in other parts of the country.

The 1.84-gigawatt hours of power the project on the North Klondike Highway is expected to produce each year represents enough energy to keep about 153 Yukon homes powered for a year, Pillai said, noting there are also many micro-generation projects adding renewable energy sources in the territory’s grid.

Speaking directly to the newest project, Solvest vice-president Ben Power pointed out it will be “entirely designed, engineered, constructed, owned, and operated by Yukoners.”

Construction is expected to begin in August and wrap up in November. At peak construction periods, the project will employ between 12 and 15 people with numbers varying at different points on the project.

“This project will provide an economically viable example of solar in the North and help encourage further development of renewable energy here and across northern Canada,” Power said. “As a local company, we look forward to working with Yukon goverment, Yukon Energy and ATCO Electric Yukon to bring this project online and begin supplying Yukoners with renewable energy for decades to come.”

At a cost of $2.1 million it’s anticipated it will be about six or seven years before it begins seeing a profit.

In a July 14 interview, NDP Leader Kate White said she’s pleased to see a local company taking on such a project that will be a positive step forward for renewable energy in the territory. She said she hopes to see more projects like this come forward, noting that while a number of First Nations and businesses are moving forward with plans to enhance renewable energy in the territory, there’s been no such investment by the Yukon government.

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