Utilities announce energy saving plan

Yukon Energy and the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. have a plan to get people to use less electricity. The utilities expect demand for electricity to balloon over the coming decades, and already our hydro capacity is stretched to its limit.

Yukon Energy and the Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. have a plan to get people to use less electricity.

The utilities expect demand for electricity to balloon over the coming decades, and already our hydro capacity is stretched to its limit.

Part of the solution, according to the new five-year plan, is what is known as demand side management, or encouraging people to be more efficient with their electricity use.

Without demand side management, residential electricity use is expected to increase 59 per cent and commercial electricity use is expected to increase 71 per cent by 2030.

The plan consists of a group of incentives, rebates and educational programs to encourage lower electricity usage.

Hot water and space heating each account for 19 per cent of residential electricity use.

One of the residential programs will look at the feasibility of using heat pumps as an alternate source of heating for homes.

The technology works like a refrigerator to extract heat from cool water, air or the ground.

Yukon Energy is hosting an event to highlight the potential of the technology Thursday, May 30, at noon at the Westmark in Whitehorse.

Other residential programs include offering rebates on the purchase of LED lights and timers for automotive block heaters.

The program will also educate the public on low-cost ways to decrease electricity usage.

In the commercial sector, lighting accounts for 37 per cent of electricity use, while heating, ventilation and air conditioning together account for 22 per cent.

Utilities will pay incentives to commercial customers who complete a lighting redesign study and retrofit their lighting systems towards lowering power consumption.

An incentive program will also be developed to encourage efficiency in new building construction.

As well, incentives will be offered for replacing inefficient regenerators and for purchasing energy-efficient computer equipment.

A big question mark of this electricity conservation plan is the industrial sectors.

Which new mines come onto the grid, and when, will greatly affect the demand for power in the territory.

Industrial customers are few, but each demand a large amount of power.

And because of the inherent riskiness of the mining sector, planning to meet the demands of the industry is a difficult proposition.

The five-year demand side management plan addresses the industrial sector only to say that customers will be handled on a case-by-case basis, and that efforts will be made to encourage energy efficiency at the design phase.

Currently Yukon’s base load is handled by hydro power, and diesel is burned when demand cannot be met by hydro, typically in the winter months.

Power rates are on the rise, and the government has announced its intention to do away with an electricity rebate that saves residential customers an average of about 20 per cent on their power bill.

Yukon Energy plans to replace diesel power with cheaper natural gas over the coming years.

It is also exploring hydro projects and other alternative energy sources, although no major projects are on the immediate horizon.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com