Whitehorse company seeks permit for 2.7 MW wind farm on Haeckel Hill

A wind turbine project proposed for Haeckel Hill opened to public commentary April 18.

A wind turbine project proposed for Haeckel Hill opened to public commentary April 18.

The project was put forward by Northern Energy Capital to the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board April 4. It would see three 900-kilowatt wind turbines built. The turbines would pump enough energy to power 525 homes into the territory’s electrical grid, the company says.

The project also includes construction of an access road and foundation, a transformation station, underground high-voltage cables and underground substation and either upgrading or replacing the current power line.

There are currently two turbines already on Haeckel Hill: a Bonus 150-kW wind turbine built in 1993 and a Vestas 660-kW turbine built in 2000.

Anne Middler, an energy analyst with the Yukon Conservation Society, said both wind turbines have had issues with blade icing in the winter. The proposed new turbines would have the benefit of updated blade-heating technology that would prevent freezing. Ice accumulation on wind turbine blades can cause the turbine to stop working.

According to Northern Energy Capital’s website, the oldest wind turbine on Haeckel Hill no longer functions, and the second turbine is not maintained and does not work in the winter.

“I think this project is great news,” said Middler. “The two turbines that are up there are definitely past their prime.”

The two turbines already on Haeckel Hill are remnants of a “neglected demo project,” from a time when “the Yukon was on the cutting edge of wind development,” she said.

Middler said the Yukon is behind the rest of Canada in “utilizing its wind resources.”

“The nice thing about wind in the Yukon is that it’s most powerful in the wintertime, when demand is at its highest,” she said. “Alternative renewable resources like wind and solar have kind of been victims of a smear campaign…. Neither are a silver bullet and because they are intermittent resources people can be dismissive of them.”

Northern Energy Capital identified the Kwanlin Dun First Nation as a First Nation on which the project might have “a significant environmental or socio-economic impact,” in its proposal.

Dave Sembsmoen, the acting director of lands and resources for Kwanlin Dun First Nation, said in a written statement, that “as stewards of the Kwanlin Dün traditional territory we are performing our due diligence and will submit a comment to YESAB as required.”

Construction of the project is expected to go ahead in the coming months. Northern Energy hopes to be producing power by the fall of 2018 or 2019.

The deadline to comment on the project is May 2.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com.

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