Watson Lake mulls hydro potential

The Liard First Nation is teaming up with the Town of Watson Lake and the Yukon Electrical Company to study the potential of hydropower generation within Kaska traditional territory in south Yukon.

Watson Lake might be getting its own hydro plant.

The Liard First Nation is teaming up with the Town of Watson Lake and the Yukon Electrical Company to study the potential of hydropower generation within Kaska traditional territory in south Yukon.

In what will likely be one of his last official acts as chief of the LFN before next week’s election, Liard McMillan said he’s happy to see a project like this getting going.

“It’s been underway for quite a period of time,” McMillan said. “I have to say, it’s the culmination of a long-lasting and very positive working relationship that the Liard First Nation has had with the Town of

Watson Lake and its officials over many years.” McMillan is not seeking re-election.

The project will see Whitehorse’s Access Consulting Group examining the technical, commercial and financial viability of a small hydro station somewhere within Kaska traditional territory. The idea is to allow Watson Lake the ability to generate its own power, with enough left over to lay the groundwork for future industrial opportunities, like a sawmill or nearby mines.

“The Liard First Nation views this as a stepping stone to other potential projects down the road, providing energy not only to the municipality of Watson Lake, but potentially in the future we will be looking at the energy needs of the surrounding area, including the mining industry,” McMillan said.

Watson Lake isn’t connected to the rest of the territorial grid. Right now it powers itself with a six-megawatt diesel generating station.

Larry Bagnell, the chair of the Watson Lake Economic Revitalization Commission, called the study a “unique partnership” that will give the area a solid power base for future expansion.

“We’re not looking at powering the whole Yukon. This is for the people of Watson Lake, and will probably be within 100 kilometres of Watson Lake,” Bagnell said.

“It won’t be a large project, but it will be large in the eyes of the people of Watson Lake,” he said.

The federal government is stepping up to pay the $100,000 fee to Access Consulting for the study, said Dwight Redden, the general manager of the Yukon Electrical Company.

Redden explained that the study will look at a number of options for hydro power, including everything from small “micro-power” dams to potential run-of-river projects.

“The study will look at various scenarios, and different sizes of hydroelectric capacity as well as different capacity factors. Not just how big, but how much power will come out of it in a given year and how does that fit with the existing system as a backup?” Redden said, adding that it’s too early to discuss possible sites for the future facility.

The project is unrelated to the Yukon government’s search for more hydro for the territorial grid, Redden said.

Earlier this fall the territorial government announced a feasibility study to look at linking the Yukon grid to Skagway, Alaska, as well as directing Yukon Energy to start looking for potential hydro projects to help feed the Yukon grid.

The Watson Lake study should be finished sometime in April 2014, Redden said.

There has been talk of a potential power link to B.C. that would run south through Watson Lake and could connect that town to the rest of the territory, but Redden said that won’t factor into this current plan unless there is significant movement on the power link question.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

U.S. government recommends largest development option for ANWR

The final environmental impact statement was released on Sept. 12

Yukon releases its FASD Action Plan

Seven priorites, 31 actions outlined


Wyatt’s World

18 people evacuated from Ethel Lake as nearby wildfire grows

The North Crooked Creek fire, burning south of Stewart Crossing, has grown to 24,842 hectares

Crown rests case in Ibex Valley murder trial

Edward James Penner, 22, is accused of killing Adam Cormack in 2017

City council news, briefly

Some of the decisions made by Whitehorse city council Sept. 9

For the first time, women outnumber men at the Annual Klondike Road Relay

The field of 1,877 runners included 1,141 women, a first for the event

History Hunter: There was more than gold in them thar hills

With placer production and the general population of the Yukon both declining… Continue reading

Yukonomist: How the Yukon saved the economy

During the Klondike gold rush, the prospect of free gold drew more… Continue reading

Just Doo-Doo Its sit on the throne after winning the Great Klondike International Outhouse Race

“Running with an outhouse can be a little sketchy at times”

Yukon mountain bikers compete at Quebec championships

“In the end, it’s the race that matters”

Commentary: Choose people over paperwork

Frank Turner The following is an open letter to Stephen Samis, deputy… Continue reading

Most Read