Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Three corporations are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects.

In submissions presented to council at its Jan. 18 meeting, Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation called for a meeting with council and city staff to explore the possibilities.

“There’s lots of opportunities,” Yukon Energy CEO and president Andrew Hall said in a Jan. 19 interview.

While Yukon Energy would ultimately want to see a lower tax rate on renewable projects, Hall said at this point the Crown corporation and two other companies involved in renewable energy are simply requesting a meeting to look at that possibility or potential incentives that would also help the city meet sustainability and climate change mitigation goals.

With property categories for taxes limited to residential, non-residential and agriculture, it was suggested in the three written submissions that the city should look at a new category for renewable energy projects on land without other development.

The creation of such a tax category “would be a significant step,” Solvest vice-president Ben Power stated in his request to the city.

The letters all pointed to city policies and statements regarding climate change mitigation, with Chu Níikwän Development Corporation CEO Chris Milner arguing that the city has a “blank slate” to work with on the matter.

Hall described the current tax rates as “pretty punitive”, noting it’s expected the property tax bill for its battery storage project will be substantially more in the city than it would have been outside of city limits.

Yukon Energy announced late in 2020 it had eliminated one of the three sites it was considering for the project that will see container units of lithium-ion batteries used to store electricity generated during off-peak periods to then be used when there is higher demand.

The site outside of city limits on the North Klondike Highway was eliminated after significant public comments were made expressing opposition. Many argued the residential area wasn’t suitable for the project, highlighting fear of fire risks and the potential for noise and light from the site.

The other two sites being considered for the project are in the city with one across the road from Yukon Energy’s LNG facility on Robert Service Way and the other at Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway.

Coun. Steve Roddick commented later in the council meeting the requests have raised a number of questions for him and he would like to see more information.

“I’m looking forward to these conversations,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an interview following the council meeting Mayor Dan Curtis said he has reservations about creating a number of different tax categories.

While he said he supports renewable energy projects, he also noted that it’s important the city collects property taxes to pay for the services the city delivers every day.

“We all want renewable energy,” he said, pointing to the solar energy the city’s operations’ building has in place as well as having the building ready for biomass heating in the future.

Despite his reservations on the issue, he didn’t rule out looking at the matter noting he would like to see more information about it.

City manager Linda Rapp indicated staff would be reaching out to the officials about a meeting.

In the meantime, Hall said Yukon Energy would wait for the city’s response to its request.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city councilYukon Energy

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