Yukon Energy plays catch up

Yukon Energy is playing catch-up when it comes to meeting the territory's energy needs and searching for innovative alternatives. One would have been district heating in Whitehorse's new Whistle Bend subdivision.

Yukon Energy is playing catch-up when it comes to meeting the territory’s energy needs and searching for innovative alternatives.

One would have been district heating in Whitehorse’s new Whistle Bend subdivision.

“Yukon Energy has decided that we’re going to be involved in district heating,” said Yukon Energy Corporation CEO David Morrison.

“But we came to that decision too late to do anything at Whistle Bend. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity.”

Morrison made these remarks in a speech at the Old Fire Hall on Tuesday morning, at a breakfast event sponsored by the Yukon and Whitehorse chambers of commerce.

He spoke about Yukon Energy’s recent charrette and the corporation’s plans for the future.

A lot of those plans involve public consultation.

And there don’t appear to be any large projects in the works.

“There are a lot of possible hydro projects, but none of them are easy,” said Morrison.

“There are wind projects too, which aren’t cheap or easy but they work. So choices are going to have to be made.”

This summer, Yukon Energy Corp. will be focusing on “demand-side management”- which basically means getting people to use less energy.

“It’s the cheapest kilowatt hour of energy that we can buy,” said Morrison.

“We can do demand-side management a lot cheaper than we can add new capacity and we can do it quicker, but only if everybody gets on the bandwagon and everybody participates.

The utility plans to hold energy management workshops for businesses on June 21.

Workshops focused on municipal and First Nation governments will be held on June 22 and 23.

Yukon Energy will be providing incentives for Yukoners to cut their energy use, said Morrison.

It’s unclear right now what these incentives might be, but the corporation hopes to roll out various programs throughout the summer.

One possibility is a rebate program. If ratepayers can demonstrate they have reduced their consumption, they would receive some extra money – or at least a smaller energy bill.

But how this will be demonstrated and how large the rebate might be is still up in the air, said Morrison.

“We still have to work out the details.”

With the northern and southern grids scheduled to be connected the first week of June, and the Aishihik’s third turbine scheduled to be ready shortly thereafter – the territory should be able to meet current demand.

But for Roger Rondeau, the head of the Utilities Consumers’ Group, the biggest issue is mines.

Dawson has been burning diesel year-round.

“We all know why they’re burning that diesel – it’s to provide power for Alexco,” said Rondeau.

“Alexco is paying 11 cents per kilowatt hour and it’s costing Yukon Energy some 30 cents per kilowatt hour – probably 35 now – to burn diesel.”

Mines pay for transmission lines, but they don’t pay for expensive capacity expansions to the grid – like Mayo B and the Aishihik third turbine.

“These are big outside companies that are making megabucks right now,” said Rondeau.

“And they’re paying less than a third of the cost if they had to provide their own power.”

Rondeau is concerned that the rest of the cost is being foisted on ratepayers.

“The debate with any new mine has to be: Can we serve them, do we have the power, what’s the price, should we even let them do their own if they’re going to use fossil fuels?” said Morrison.

“Or should we be saying to people that they can’t do that, they should be using biomass or microhydro?”

Morrison hopes that frequent consultations with Yukoners will help him answer these questions.

The charrette report will be out in the next two weeks, followed by a draft of the 20-year resource plan later in the summer.

“We may not get it right the first time, but we’ll certainly take the resource plan draft out for discussion as we get it done,” said Morrison.

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read