Secondary customers powered down

More than a week ago, Yukon Energy pulled the plug on its secondary sales customers. Since then, Whitehorse General Hospital, the Canada Games…

More than a week ago, Yukon Energy pulled the plug on its secondary sales customers.

Since then, Whitehorse General Hospital, the Canada Games Centre and Yukon College have burnt more than 272,000 litres of oil combined.

The hospital has seven boilers, which usually run on electricity, said spokesperson Val Pike on Monday.

But because it’s a secondary energy customer, when Yukon Energy’s power supply is maxed out, the hospital is cut off.

With no juice coming from the Crown-owned corporation, the hospital is forced to run its boilers on oil.

Each one burns up to 3,400 litres every 24 hours, said Pike. That’s 141 litres an hour.

To put that in perspective, an average home burns about 240 litres a week.

There are 23 secondary energy customers in Whitehorse, said Yukon Electrical Company customer services manager Craig Steinbach on Monday.

And all of them were cut off on December 16.

“The idea is when surplus energy is available on the grid, it’s offered to those who have subscribed at a reduced rate,” said Steinbach.

But when that surplus is not available, Yukon Energy has the right to shut off secondary sales — it’s in the contract, he said.

“Typically secondary sales are curtailed when the temperatures goes down and consumption goes up.

“However, from time to time, if there are generating units that are not available — either broken down or in need of repair — that’s another condition that would leave the grid short of power and they might shut off secondary sales.”

When Yukon Energy has capacity available and doesn’t need diesel generation to support the grid, secondary customers will get their power turned on, Steinbach added.

Last year, secondary-sales customers were cut off for about a week, said Yukon Electrical customer service supervisor Wendy Scramstad.

“I think it was less frequent last year than we’ve seen this year,” said Steinbach.

On October 22, secondary power was suspended. It wasn’t returned to customers until November 7 — 17 days later.

Steinbach could not predict when Yukon Energy would reinstall power following this second cut off, nine days ago.

Secondary power used to be cut off once the temperature dropped below minus 35, said Yukon Brewing president Bob Baxter.

“As secondary customers we’ve been used to it going out at 35 below, but this year, I’m guessing, it will be 20 or 25 below,” he said.

“And the reason for the change is that Yukon Energy is selling more power. And who are they selling it to? The (Minto) mine.

“There’s no question it’s the mine that has caused the secondary to be off,” said Baxter.

Luckily, Yukon Brewing doesn’t use its secondary power for heat, like most of the other secondary customers in town.

“We use it to make beer and we make most of our beer in the summer, when there’s no shortage of power,” he said.

But those who heat with secondary power experience a “double whammy,” said Baxter.

When it’s coldest, and they need heat the most, they lose power, he said.

Baxter doesn’t blame Yukon Energy for maxing out its power supply to light up Minto.

“Good on them, they want to have firm power buyers instead of selling it at a cheaper rate,” he said.

“In a way, they’re just doing their job.

“It’s a big challenge running a utility; they have to meet the demand five years from now, because that’s how long it takes to bring new developments on — they live and die by their forecasts.”

“We did a preliminary estimate on what would be the Minto mine load,” said Yukon Energy vice-president David McDonald in an October 14th interview with the News.

“It turns out the Minto mine load is not going to be as large as we thought.

“So there will, in fact, be secondary sales of additional hydro power that will be available for another year or so.”

If Yukon Energy gets maxed out, it turns on its diesels, said local climate-change expert John Streicker.

So, to keep the diesels off, it cuts power to its secondary customers.

But diesel oil is the backup for these secondary customers too, he said.

“So the problem is the same.”

Streicker would like to see Yukon Energy introduce smart meters to allow individual users to give power back to the grid.

“And these would only work with renewable energy sources,” he said.

“Because if you were running diesel you’d never compete with the big generators (at Yukon Energy).”

The power corp. could also set higher electrical rates during peak hours — before people head to work, and when they’re home again cooking and watching TV or using computers, said Streicker.

“This might encourage people to recharge their batteries at night, or set timers on their hot water heaters,” he said.

“This would even out the peaks, and push them into the valleys.

“It would mean we could squeeze a lot more capacity out of the 57 megawatts we have.”

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read