Premier Darrell Pasloski met with Alaskan governor Sean Parnell this week.
The purpose was to renew an accord between the neighbouring regions, but the conversation quickly turned to energy, said Pasloski.
“Alaska’s in the same position as we are,” he said. “They feel that within Southeast Alaska they have the opportunity to generate quite a bit of electricity. So they too would like to see the opportunity to link with British Columbia, which is really getting them into the entire North American grid. So we’ll work together.”
Both regions need pricey new infrastructure, and possess small populations to pay for it, said Pasloski. And both are stretched to meet growing demand for electricity.
“We’re sort of getting to the top end of our hydro capacity right now,” said Pasloski.
Skagway has an energy surplus in the winter, but it relies on diesel generators to provide power to cruise ships in the summer.
The Yukon, meanwhile, can generate more hydroelectric power than it needs during the summer months, but it must burn diesel in the winter.
Combining the two could be a good fit, said Pasloski.
In the short-term, Yukon officials are looking at connecting to Skagway, with the longer-term goal of plugging into B.C.
That would hook up the Yukon to the North American grid, allowing the territory to sell excess energy when possible and buy more power when needed.
Skagway has looked for its own energy solutions, and has a few other options.
One includes using liquefied natural gas. Supplies may grow if Parnell can convince companies like ConocoPhillips, BP and Exxon to pipe their natural gas from Alaska’s Northern Slope down to the state’s southern coast, where it would be liquefied and shipped to Asia.
This new pipeline plan may shoulder out the Alaska Highway Pipeline Project, which the Yukon government has long championed. But Pasloski didn’t push the matter.
“Alaska will do what they feel is the right decision for them in the long term,” he said. “We’ll continue to be ready in anticipation if there was a decision made to create a pipeline through Yukon and into the rest of North America.”
The accord between Alaska and the Yukon has been renewed for another two years. It calls for partnerships on education and mine training, like that offered to Yukoners and Alaskans through the University of Alaska and Yukon College. It also calls for collaborations on roadwork for the Shakwak Project and the Haines Highway.
Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at