Yukon Energy says it is preparing a proposal to go to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for the Southern Lakes enhanced storage project it is working on. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Energy says it is preparing a proposal to go to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for the Southern Lakes enhanced storage project it is working on. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon Energy moves forward with Southern Lakes storage project

Project anticipated to go to YESAB in summer 2021

Yukon Energy says it is preparing a proposal to go to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board for the Southern Lakes enhanced storage project it is working on. The proposal is expected to be submitted in the summer of 2021.

On Dec. 11, Yukon Energy announced its plans to move forward with the project, noting it will continue discussions with the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and will be contacting property owners that would be directly impacted by the project to review and finalize any mitigation plans addressing erosion or flooding potential.

The project would see an additional 30 centimeters of water stored in Marsh Lake, Tagish Lake and Bennett Lake in the fall and early winter. Yukon Energy would use the additional water to generate hydroelectricity during winter to meet the extra demand for electricity in the colder months.

It would allow Yukon Energy to generate 6.5 more gigawatt hours of electricity through the winter and is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,100 tonnes as there would be less reliance on diesel and liquefied natural gas.

In its statement, Yukon Energy made it clear the decision doesn’t mean the project will proceed. It does however mean after a decade of studies, public meetings, surveys, planning and engineering, the company will take the next step forward on the project.

“While there continues to be mixed feelings about the project one thing is crystal clear — Yukon wants more renewable electricity,” said Andrew Hall, president and CEO of Yukon Energy. “After 10 years of researching and gathering feedback on our proposed plan, we believe we can implement the Southern Lakes Enhanced Storage Project in a way that supports Yukoners’ desire for more renewable electricity while also addressing the specific concerns of local citizens, residents and property owners.”

A survey done as part of the input process showed 62 per cent of Southern Lakes residents support the project with 77 per cent of Whitehorse residents and 61 per cent of residents from other Yukon communities supporting the project provided it’s demonstrated there is minimal environmental impact.

“We took some comfort in that,” Hall said of the survey results showing a majority of Yukoners support the project.

It was noted work to assess the enhanced storage project got underway in 2009 as Yukon Energy was looking at ways to increase the amount of renewable electricity generated every winter.

The company finished the final round of public engagement in January 2020 with a report outlining the findings from the public input and surveys published in May.

It was noted through the YESSA process, there will be another opportunity for the public to share their views about the proposed project.

In the meantime, Yukon Energy says it will continue working with First Nations and residents in the Southern Lakes area to finalize key components of the proposal such as fieldwork for a heritage resources impact assessment; a monitoring and adaptive management plan that will track potential effects of the project and outline how Yukon Energy will make adjustments, if needed, to address any significant impacts; negotiating project-specific benefits agreements with First Nations; meeting with property owners expected to be directly affected by the project to review and confirm the company’s erosion and groundwater mitigation plans; and develop an adjudication process for property owners who experience unexpected impacts, should the project be implemented, to file concerns and seek additional mitigation.

“There’s a lot of things that happen in parallel,” Hall said of the steps that will happen to prepare the YESSA documents.

While Yukon Energy continues to be in discussions with First Nations about the plans, more meetings will likely get underway in early 2021 as efforts to submit the documents next summer continue.

If YESAB recommends the project go ahead following the assessment, Yukon Energy would take it to the Yukon Water Board and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. That would likely happen in 2022 and would provide further public input opportunities.

It’s anticipated the earliest Yukon Energy would be able to use any additional storage in the Southern Lakes, provided all approvals happen as expected, would be in the fall of 2023.

“Soon, we’ll leave it in the hands of YESAB to make their own impartial assessment of the project,” Hall said. “After 10 years, we believe all Yukon will appreciate having an independent third party involved at this stage to determine if we are right in our enthusiasm about the benefits we believe the Southern Lakes enhanced storage project provides Yukon.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Yukon Energy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

Whitehorse City Hall at its Steele Street entrance. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Change of plans approved for city hall

Project would see 1966 city hall demolished

A city map shows the property at 107 Range Road. The zoning is now in place for developers to proceed with plans for a Dairy Queen drive-thru. If plans proceed on schedule the new restaurant is anticipated to open in October. (Cyrstal Schick/Yukon News)
October opening eyed for Dairy Queen

Will depend on everything going according to plan

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Anne Huang launched Anne’s Dumplings out of Yukon Food Provisions in December. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Yukon Food Provisions launches collaborative cooking space

Ice cream, donuts, bread, dumplings and feature items are all available in the industrial district

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Most Read