The base of a former wind turbine on Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11. Most turbines last 20 years - this one was in operation for 25 years before being taken down in early September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Who wants a free wind turbine?

Turns out rescue training outfits are big fans of the things

A Haeckel Hill wind turbine will have a second life as a rescue tower.

That’s according to Janet Patterson a spokesperson for Yukon Energy.

The turbine, one of two on Haeckel Hill, went into service in 1993. That means it outlived the 20-year life expectancy of most wind turbines, said Patterson. Just like an old car though, she said, it degrades over time. You can fix it for a while, but eventually it’s time to retire.

She said Yukon Energy donated the turbine to Dimensions Tech Services (DTS) — a Whitehorse-based company that offers specialized technical and training services.

Warren Zakus, president of DTS, said the company had used the turbine in the past, with the cooperation of Yukon Energy.

He said it will be relocated somewhere it’s easier to access. There, it will be used in training exercises for emergency responders including fire fighters and search and rescue workers.

Zakus said the turbine is great for practicing all kinds of scenarios. If a worker falls and their fall arrest kicks in, they’re then stuck hanging and in need of assistance. A turbine is the perfect practicing grounds for that, as well as for simply getting used to working at heights.

“People say you can practice at 20 feet or 200 feet and it’s all the same skills and that’s true but the feeling is very different,” Zakus said.

He said DTS is grateful for the donation, which was removed by two cranes over the weekend of Sept. 8.

Patterson said the second turbine on the hill, which went into service in 2000, still has some life left in it. With the two turbines working together, she said Yukon Energy could power 150 homes.

She said the company doesn’t plan to put up another turbine, but that Northern Energy Capital (NEC), working with the development corporation owned by the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, has a plan in place to establish turbines and sell the power back to Yukon Energy.

Malek Tawashy, CEO and director of NEC, said the company hopes to have commercial operations running by 2020.

He said results of current feasibility studies are exciting and NEC is looking at putting up two to four turbines, depending on the level of wind on the hill.

These, like the recently-decommissioned turbine, will be shipped from Europe.

“Most of the top ones come from Europe,” he said. “And we’re only considering those with a positive experience in cold climate.”

He said that means a turbine whose internal workings can operate at a lower temperature, with some internal heating and a blade heating system to overcome the rime icing (tiny ice particles) that can build up on the blade.

Rime icing can add weight, and degrade the air flow over the blades.

He said he hopes to see the energy purchase agreement with Yukon government completed by the first quarter of 2019.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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