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Yukon gets $71M for hydro upgrades

The Yukon Energy Corporation has secured $71 million from Ottawa to expand hydro-power production and link the Yukon's two electrical grids.

The Yukon Energy Corporation has secured $71 million from Ottawa to expand hydro-power production and link the Yukon’s two electrical grids.

Another powerhouse downstream from the Mayo River dam and a transmission line linking Pelly Crossing and Stewart Crossing are slated for construction, federal and territorial officials announced on Friday.

However, the $160-million megaproject, which would unify the territory’s hydro grid, is still short money.

The southern Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro grid is currently dependent on diesel power only in winter months, but Yukon Energy is predicting year-round diesel use by 2012.

“That’s why we want to get these projects on-stream,” said Yukon Energy president David Morrison.

The federal money will flow to the Yukon government, which will pass it on to the Yukon Energy Corp. However, the details of the transfers still have to be worked out, said Morrison.

Ottawa’s portion is coming from a $1-billion fund financing green infrastructure projects over the next five years.

But Yukon Energy is still figuring out how to raise the other $89 million.

That money will come from the Yukon government, Yukon Energy, Yukon First Nations and ratepayers, said Morrison.

“We haven’t had other than preliminary discussions with First Nations,” said Morrison. “We’ve obviously had a number of discussions with the Yukon government because we worked with them getting the $71 million.”

Yukon Energy is trying to figure out a way of building the project without burdening ratepayers.

“We can put projects into our rate base without affecting rates,” said Morrison. To do it, the corporation must depreciate the project’s cost as others come off the books, he said.

The Carmacks-Stewart Crossing transmission line has already been approved by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Board. It is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2010.

The Mayo powerhouse is currently in the assessment process and is scheduled to start producing power in late 2011.

Yukon Energy is holding a board meeting next week to decide what to do next.

“We’re a ways from getting it all approved,” said Morrison.

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