YTG plans to open power grid

The Yukon government is considering dramatically altering the way power is produced in the territory. It's asking the public about how to introduce independent power producers and net metering to the grid.

The Yukon government is considering dramatically altering the way power is produced in the territory.

It’s asking the public about how to introduce independent power producers and net metering to the grid.

There are few details in a discussion paper released last week, just general questions on how a policy should be written.

Who should regulate these power generators?

What kind of power should be allowed?

What financial incentives should be included?

Every province has some sort of policy covering independent power producers, and most allow net metering.

They are sold as a way to increase clean energy sources and diversify power grids from high-impact mega projects.

Independent power producers are privately owned power plants that aren’t run by a utility.

They’ve been legal in the United States for decades, where nuclear and coal plants are plugged into public or private utility grids.

In BC, independent power producers have to be green. Biomass plants, wind farms, run-of-the-river plants and geothermal stations now litter the BC wilderness, offering BC Hydro alternative sources of power.

In last year’s Clean Call—as BC Hydro’s request for proposals is named—68 projects were proposed totalling 17,000 gigawatt hours per year of electricity.

BC Hydro is now in the final stages of approving 13 of them.

The utility guarantees producers a certain rate for their power.

Net metering also promises to increase the number of renewable energy sources.

The policy would allow individuals to sell power to the public utility from small generators, like windmills or solar panels.

The government hasn’t specified whether such a power source has to be environmentally sound, said Shane Andre, senior energy adviser at the Energy Solutions Centre.

There’s uncertainty about ATCO, which entered into secret negotiations with Premier Dennis Fentie to privatize the publicly owned Yukon Energy Corporation.

Some suggest this latest proposal could be a way for ATCO to privatize power plants in the territory.

However, because ATCO is registered as a utility under its subsidiary, the Yukon Electrical Company Limited, it cannot build independent power plants, said Andre.

A few months ago, ATCO was saying otherwise.

Yukon Electrical, along with Yukon Energy, has been helping the government develop its policy for months.

In June, Jerome Babyn, Yukon Electrical’s general manager, didn’t see any problems with his utility proposing to build power plants.

“When you need generation, you call on the marketplace to deliver that to you,” said Babyn. “And a utility, in some cases, can put in a bid.”

The Energy Solutions Centre, run out of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, will be meeting with stakeholders over the next two months on the policy.

Deadline for submissions on the discussion paper is January 29.

The paper can be downloaded at http://www.emr.gov.yk.ca/ipp_net_metering_consultation.html.

Contact James Munson at jamesm@yukon-news.com