sustainable stimulation

The federal government will be injecting a whack of cash into the Canadian economy in order to fiscally stimulate the country out of the depression. While the exact amount has yet to be determined, the $30 billion amount is being heard an awful lot these

The federal government will be injecting a whack of cash into the Canadian economy in order to fiscally stimulate the country out of the depression.

While the exact amount has yet to be determined, the billion amount is being heard an awful lot these days.

Now billion is a fair chunk of money.

When we are talking that much money, there is usually enough for every one, including the Yukon.

Odds are each northern territory will get about million of the aforementioned billions to stimulate its particular economy.

Here is some advice to the various governments on how to spend that money so that the Yukon’s economy can be stimulated.

Actually here is some advice on what not to spend it on.

Do not spend it on roads, pipelines, railways, dams or electrical transmission lines.

These types of projects already have tons of taxpayers dollars devoted to them.

It is reported that the Yukon will be getting 5 million from the federal government’s Build Canada fund for this sort of thing.

No doubt this will be spent on the usual grandiose mega projects.

None of these projects tend to be good for the environment, and it can even be argued that they are not even good for the economy.

The environmental cost of dams on fisheries, wetlands and riparian habitat is usually not factored into the cost of the initial construction.

Only after additional millions have been spent on reclamation and restoration projects are the true costs revealed.

Roads tend to be fiscal sinkholes, as their operation and maintenance costs can be high.

The Alaska Highway and its fascinating collection of potholes near Beaver Creek seems to be attracting a lot of maintenance dollars these days.

If only it would stop sinking into the melting permafrost.

For that to happen the root causes of climate change would have to be addressed.

Now there is something that the federal stimulus dollars could be spent on.

It is time to spend the million stimulus dollars in such a fashion so that it not only helps the economy but also helps the environment.

An example of sustainable stimulus spending would be to extend the various home renovation initiatives currently underway in the Yukon.

Jobs are created locally in the short term doing this form of construction and they are created in every community.

If the focus on the renovations is energy smart projects in the long run homeowners require less energy for heating.

This in turn means less demand for either electricity or fossil fuels so the environment benefits.

In the case that less fossil fuels are used for heating, the Yukon’s contribution towards climate change is reduced.

Another way to do a sustainable stimulus in the Yukon is to tweak the power grid.

The powers-that-be concerned with managing the Yukon energy system are very reluctant to install net metering.

This is the concept whereby Yukon households could generate their own power and sell it back to the grid.

The power can be generated through solar panels and small wind turbines that can be mounted in yards and atop garages.

When the household is not using the electricity created by these power systems it can be sold to the power company and then distributed to those who need power.

Part of the concern is that monitoring all that electricity flowing from small independent power producers into the general Yukon grid requires expensive monitoring systems.

The potential power generated by households would have to be redistributed to other users without blowing transformers and fuses all over the place.

Since the whole concept of stimulus is to spend money here is a good chance to purchase not only the monitoring systems, but also subsidize the cost and installation of the solar panels and small turbines.

Installing those panels and turbines would create jobs and the end result would provide clean energy towards the Yukon’s electrical needs.

In response to those that say the sun does not shine all the time nor does the wind blow with consistent frequency it must be noted that the rivers do not always flow with enough capacity and the future use of fossil fuels is bleak due to climate change concerns.

There was not enough hydro capacity this December in the Yukon and the diesel turbines had to be turned on to maintain the Yukon power supply.

When the Yukon gets serious about dealing with greenhouse gas emissions turning on the diesel turbines might not be an option.

It is obvious that either reducing power usage is needed or adding more power to the system is required.

Power reduction can be done through home renovations that emphasize energy efficiency

Power-supply increases can be done through small scale clean energy projects.

Both methods would stimulate the local economy, and both would leave a positive environmental legacy.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse based part-time environmentalist.

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