Lowball energy strategy guaranteed to succeed

The Yukon's Energy Strategy has set its sights pretty low. It aims to increase renewable energy use in the Yukon by 20 per cent in 11 years. The territory will probably hit the target in two years. The Yukon currently produces...

The Yukon’s Energy Strategy has set its sights pretty low.

It aims to increase renewable energy use in the Yukon by 20 per cent in 11 years.

The territory will probably hit the target in two years.

The Yukon currently produces 1068 terajoules of renewable energy, which represents about 17 per cent of the total energy burned here.

The energy strategy, released last week, proposes boosting that to 1,283 terajoules.

A third turbine at Aishihik hydro station, scheduled for completion by 2011, could add 221 terajoules to the system, pushing it beyond the strategy’s 11-year target.

Energy specialists have suggested the strategy is too timid.

Minister Brad Cathers was not available to comment by press time, nearly a week after the strategy was released.

However, director of the Energy Solutions Centre Colin McDowell fielded questions on the strategy’s call to open the oil and gas business in the Yukon.

“I think there’s a recognition that, in the short to medium term, our society will be pretty heavily dependent on oil and gas,” said McDowell. “If we cut off all the oil and gas now, we’d be freezing in our houses.”

The strategy proposes the Yukon produce its own fossil fuels rather than import it. But with no impetus to build more renewable energy sources after 2010, the Yukon could stay on its fossil fuels for long after.

The strategy also aims to increase energy efficiency, but the goal to increase it by 20 per cent in 11 years also had its limits.

“The accountability part is that we are accountable for government operations and we can’t necessarily mandate that the Hougens of the world improve their energy efficiency,” said McDowell.

Enforcing a Supergreen building code wouldn’t work because developers could just increase how many buildings they build.

“The Hougens could triple the size of their operations and (end up) using more energy,” he said. “That’s the sort of thing you can’t control.”

There is some work being done at the national level, he said, with people advising both the Council of Energy Ministers and the Council of the Federation on energy standards.

In the meantime, the Yukon will aim to change its government operations rather than the construction industry as a whole.

Rebates for energy efficient appliances, zero-interest loans for green retrofitting and better energy audits throughout the Yukon are mentioned in the strategy, said McDowell.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com.