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Yukon Energy to lower power bills in new year

The Yukon Energy Corporation guarantees it will be asking for a rate reduction this summer.The power company will apply to the Yukon Utilities…

The Yukon Energy Corporation guarantees it will be asking for a rate reduction this summer.

The power company will apply to the Yukon Utilities Board by the end of August for a decrease in power bills.

“I don’t have a specific number right now, but we will be looking at a rate reduction,” said Yukon Energy president David Morrison on Tuesday.

The rate application is based on expected revenue the Sherwood Copper Minto mine will provide once it hooks up to the grid early this fall.

The new switch for the Carmacks to Stewart transmission line will be flipped on September 30 if all goes as planned, said Morrison.

Minto mine would connect the next day.

The mine will pay $3.5 million to Yukon Energy annually.

Rates could be reduced by early next year, said Morrison.

“We’re a regulated utility and if our revenue goes up in greater proportion than our costs, it’s simple math,” he said.

Morrison provided an update on the new Carmacks to Stewart line, phase one of a larger project, on Tuesday.

“Work has been going well,” he said.

The project is on budget, he added.

Cost of the $27.8 million transmission line from Carmacks to Stewart is shared between several parties.

The Yukon government is contributing $10 million, Sherwood Copper has provided $7.2 million, and the Yukon Development Corporation has given $7 million.

That leaves ratepayers covering the remaining $3.6 million.

The cost is higher than the first estimates.

The new numbers are tendered numbers that came in before the project started, said Morrison.

“The price of poles and wires (increased the estimates),” he said.

Once the power is on, communities such as Pelly Crossing will switch off diesel power.

“That’s a benefit to all ratepayers,” said Morrison.

“This is one rate zone. The fuel saving for Pelly is also a saving in the total amount of money the rate system costs. We all help pay all the costs.”

In the spring, crews discovered a heritage site along the power-line route and had to shift the pole position 100 metres.

Last year, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board asked Yukon Energy to reroute segments of its transmission line because of several possible heritage sites.

“We got a little behind in heritage work last fall so we had to come back in when the snow was off the ground,” said Morrison.

A team of Selkirk First Nation and Yukon government researchers found a collection of stone flakes and hide scrapers at one site this summer.

Artifacts on Selkirk land will go to the First Nation, while the government takes possession of artifacts on its land.

“These artifacts weren’t very deep down so they were easy to identify,” said Morrison.

Planning for the line from Stewart to Pelly Crossing, the second phase of the project, is on hold while Yukon Energy waits for assessment board approval of the Western Copper Carmacks mine.

“Before we do the next section, we need another customer,” said Morrison.

Once Western Copper gets through the assessment board process it would be the other customer, he added.

Yukon Energy has also approached Alexco Resources about providing power to its Keno mine.

“Just as we required Sherwood Copper to contribute to (capital costs of the) main line, Western Copper and Alexco would be required to do the same,” said Morrison.

Assessment work for the whole line is complete, so Yukon Energy doesn’t need to go through the assessment board process again, but it still needs permits.

The company is also working on a plan to increase its power capabilities through more hydro or another renewable energy source.

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