Yukon energy burning diesel

If you've been past the Whitehorse dam in the past couple of days, you may have noticed the telltale roar of Yukon Energy's diesel generators.

If you’ve been past the Whitehorse dam in the past couple of days, you may have noticed the telltale roar of Yukon Energy’s diesel generators.

The corporation shut down its Aishihik hydro plant on Tuesday afternoon in order to install a third turbine at the plant.

The work is scheduled to take until June 21, forcing Yukon Energy to burn diesel in Whitehorse to make up for the shortfall.

The three-week shutdown will require around 400,000 litres of diesel, according to spokesperson Janet Patterson.

That’s about $400,000 to $500,000 worth of fuel, in order to create 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

That of course is just an estimate, and depends on consumption.

So Yukon Energy is asking Yukoners to be as careful as possible with their usage, said Patterson.

“We’re trying to get the message out to everybody – not just residential customers – whatever you can do we’re hoping that people will consider doing it.”

Patterson is doing her part.

On Thursday, she was sitting in her office with the lights and air conditioning turned off, she said.

“I figure if we’re asking other people to do it than we should be doing it too.”

The shutdown was chosen for the first three weeks in June, in order to have time to get to the rest of Yukon Energy’s summer projects.

“It’s a careful balancing act this summer, because we know that we’ve got to get a certain amount of work done in Mayo before the snow flies, before it freezes up,” said Patterson.

“So we’re counting back from there.”

The corporation hopes to complete its Mayo B hydro project sometime between December 31, 2011 and March 31, 2012.

To meet that deadline, the Mayo plant will have to be shut down for three months.

The northern and southern grids should be connected by the end of the month, meaning that Whitehorse and Aishihik will be able to pull up the slack while Mayo is down.

Yukon Energy wants Aishihik running smoothly and at full capacity when this takes place. So it’s installing the third turbine, and also doing work on intake, bypass tunnels and its substation.

The bulk of the work should be done during the next three weeks, said Patterson.

But there will still be more work to do before the third generator is activated, which should be later this year.

The new turbine will generate an extra 7.5 megawatts of hydro.

Currently, Aishihik can provide up to 30 megawatts with its two existing 15-megawatt turbines.

Whitehorse can produce 40 megawatts in the summer when the Yukon River is high.

Right now, the water’s quite low and the plant is producing around 27 megawatts.

But by June 17, the plant should be producing 38 megawatts, depending on the spring melt.

“We’ve got lots of electricity, that’s not the issue,” said Patterson.

“It’s just that the less diesel that we burn, the better it is for everybody.”

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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