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Yukon Energy celebrates marriage of two grids

The Yukon’s two major energy transmission grids were connected last week. The completed project was celebrated on Friday afternoon with the click of a mouse.

The Yukon’s two major energy transmission grids were connected last week.

The completed project was celebrated on Friday afternoon with the click of a mouse.

Territorial MP Ryan Leaf and Premier Darrell Pasloski, representing the two governments that ponied up most of the cash for the project, stood in front of a bank of monitors in Yukon Energy’s system control centre.

On one of the screens was a simplistic image of the territory and its transmission grids – the southern one running from Aishihik to Faro and the northern from Dawson to Mayo.

A line has been built connecting the two grids. When a simple button was clicked by the politicians, some lights blinked green, symbolically unifying the Yukon’s energy transmission system.

It was like a video game – an expensive and boring video game.

The actual hookup was a little more complicated, and was completed by technicians on Thursday night.

Prior to that, both grids were running diesel generators – the southern grid because of work being done on the Aishihik plant, and the northern grid because of excess demand.

“We’re not going to get the real benefit from the connection for several more months,” said Yukon Energy president David Morrison.

The Mayo B project is currently under budget and ahead of schedule, said Morrison.

The plant should be completed a month early, in November.

This is well ahead of March 2012, the deadline for the federal stimulus money that funded the project.

The Mayo plant will be shut down at 6 p.m. today in order to complete work on the Mayo B project.

There’s still a lot of work to do.

New turbines need to be installed. They’re currently somewhere in the Pacific, making their way to the Yukon from China.

An 11-metre-long intake tunnel also has to be created.

The Aishihik plant came back online on Sunday, although the new third turbine will not be operational until this fall.

Last Friday marked a major phase in the Yukon Green Energy Legacy Project, said Pasloski.

“A major commitment in Yukon’s energy strategy was the development of a territorial-wide grid,” he said.

“And our government was fortunate enough to have the first project approved under the government of Canada’s Green Infrastructure Fund.”

Ottawa is contributing up to $71 million towards $161 million worth of energy projects in the Yukon.

“Our government has received a strong mandate from Canadian’s to focus on the economy,” said Leaf.

“This targeted investment in green infrastructure will not only improve the quality of the environment, but will lead to a more sustainable economy and energy source for Yukon.”

The grid connection was the second and final stage of the Carmacks–Stewart Transmission project.

Stage one was completed in 2008, creating lines from Carmacks to Pelly Crossing as well as a Spur to the Minto mine.

Once Mayo B and Aishihik Three are both on line, Yukon Energy should be able to meet the territory’s current energy needs without burning diesel, said Morrison.

And the newly connected grid will offer more flexibility and stability to the Yukon’s transmission system.

“At some points it’ll be the Mayo plant benefiting the Whitehorse area and, at different points in time, it’ll be going the other way,” said Morrison.

“It just depends on where the loads are what the requirements are.”

Contact Chris Oke at