A new campaign could be key in decreasing peak energy use in the territory.
The Northern Energy Innovation research centre at Yukon University launched the Beat the Peak campaign on Jan. 6, in partnership with Yukon Energy, ATCO Electric, the Yukon government, City of Whitehorse and the Yukon Conservation Society.
Under the program, Yukoners are invited to sign up for notifications that precede an expected peak in energy use. They provide advice on what actions can be taken to reduce demand on the system — actions like turning a thermostat down a couple of degrees, delaying use of appliances like dishwasher or dryer, and using a block heater timer when they plug in their vehicle.
As Joe Collier, project officer with Northern Energy group, explained in a Jan. 10 interview, each winter the territory relies on additional rented diesel generators to keep up with peak energy demands, and it’s hoped the initiative will help reduce that reliance.
The campaign is being run as a pilot project this winter, and it’s anticipated improvements will be made.
“We’re trying things out,” he said, noting his hope this will have an impact on electricity use in the territory.
The highest electricity demand was recorded Dec. 16 at 7:51 a.m. when Yukoners used a record 104.42 megawatts of electricity, up about half a megawatt from the previous record set on Jan. 14, 2020 when 103.84 megawatts was used, Yukon Energy reported on social media.
The partners in the Beat the Peak campaign, Collier said, want to see the territory rely less on diesel, have cleaner energy use and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Research has indicated that a demand-side management strategy could impact the number of diesel generators required, as it’s noted on the Beat the Peak campaign page on the Yukon University website.
The campaign will help determine if that is indeed the case. If it’s shown that peak use can be significantly reduced, it could provide a “low-cost, low-tech solution to help meet Yukon’s electric power needs while decreasing the required investment in new thermal generation.”
Collier said officials wanted to provide fairly simple ways Yukoners could make a difference during peak energy-use periods.
He noted many Yukoners are community-minded and want to do what they can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the territory. This is one way coordinated efforts by individuals at home could have a larger impact territory-wide, he explained.
Already just under 100 have signed on and there’s been a “steady stream” of engagement on social media, Collier said.
“I’m thrilled right now with the response,” he said.
There is no deadline for those interested to sign on and officials will continue working to collect data for the duration of the colder winter months with Collier expecting this portion of the project to end in late March or April, depending on weather conditions.
After that, through the warmer months, the research centre will work on researching and analyzing the information with the project partners to see what impact the campaign had, while also considering other factors that may impact energy use in the territory (for example the impact of Yukoners working from home, among others).
That work will then determine how future campaigns and initiatives may move forward.
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