Yukon MP Larry Bagnell during an announcement in July 2019. On Sept. 22, Bagnell announced 5.4 million in total funding from the federal government to the Yukon to support clean energy initiatives. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Federal government funds five new green energy projects

Around 40 homes near Whitehorse will participate a pilot project testing heat-storage technology

The federal government will fund five green energy projects in the territory, including a pilot project that aims to reduce energy bills with heat-storing bricks.

The government is giving $1.6 million to the Yukon Conservation Society to test out energy-conserving technology that can store heat from low-electricity periods in order to heat a home and reduce demand during peak times.

Around 40 homes in and near Whitehorse will participate in the project, working with the Yukon Conservation Society to install electric thermal storage (ETS) units and track how effective they are at heating homes.

Similar technology is already being used in Nova Scotia and Alaska, but project manager Eric Labrecque said it’s important to study the introduction of the technology in Yukon.

“One of the main research questions that we’re identifying is the regulatory and infrastructure barriers that would be encountered through if we were to pursue a more widespread implementation,” he said. “We’re also looking to see what people feel about ETS.”

Another $2.1 million will go to the Carcross/Tagish First Nation to install a biomass district heating system to displace existing electric and fossil fuel heating systems in five community buildings.

Biomass heating systems use wood chips or pellets and other organic matter as fuel, rather than diesel or electricity.

“It’s incredible how the Yukon First Nations have really led the way in reducing fossil fuels in their communities,” said MP Larry Bagnell at an announcement on Sept. 22.

“I’m so proud of all the partners that we have today that worked so hard to make these projects a reality. Your efforts reflect the kind of smart strategic approach we need to address climate change, create good jobs and create a better future here in the north and right across the country,” Bagnell said.

The Teslin Tlingit Council is also receiving funds for a new biomass heating system. A total of $800,000 has been allotted for the project that will heat eight new duplexes, including 16 housing units.

Kluane First Nation is receiving $345,900 to develop a forest resources management plan to sustainably meet current and future local biomass heating needs.

Chief Bob Dickson said the First Nation will be relying on tools like databases and satellite data, combined with local knowledge, to sustainably harvest building materials and fuel on settlement lands.

An additional $574,000 is going to the Government of Yukon to work with First Nations to fill gaps in First Nations communities around clean energy, including training programs and evaluation for new opportunities.

“Every single community’s in a different situation, on what portfolio of energy they’re putting together. So really identifying what is in place right now and taking a look at who is in the community to support that,” said Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai.

The $5.4 million in total funding comes from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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