Guy Morgan, Yukon Energy director of operations, and Jared Morgan, Yukon Energy plant operator, walk passed a hydro turbine at Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Jan. 17. A panel created to advise the Yukon government on its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has recommended reforming regulations and making a serious investment in renewable energy projects over the next five years. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon panel helps plan for more renewable energy

The majority of Yukoners want to see more green energy available in the territory, according to an expert who was part of a panel struck to advise the Yukon government on its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“They felt that there hasn’t been enough progress in recent years on developing new, clean, renewable energy projects,” John Maissan told the News.

“They also know that fossil fuel is the cheapest option in the short term and so they realize that there will be some additional cost” if more load is placed on renewable energy sources, he added.

The Yukon government released a draft plan in November that seeks to axe greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. Central to the plan is ensuring that 93 per cent of power is derived from renewable energy sources while balancing demand due to a growing population.

The panel is an offshoot of this work. It visited Whitehorse, Watson Lake and Haines Junction shortly after the plan was released in order to collect information from Yukoners and stakeholders.

The panel’s report says that thermal energy use has increased over several years, a result of changes like population growth, drought and new mines coming online.

“This increasing baseload of fossil fuel generation trend could see Yukon move below the government’s 93 per cent target in the coming years,” says the report.

It makes several recommendations for the government to consider. The plan is going to be finalized in June.

It says that conservation should be prioritized. Doing so means that energy demand should be reduced by 15 per cent, it says, adding that 25 per cent of energy should be deferred.

“Conservation and energy efficiency haven’t been part of our electrical culture, and they need to be,” Maissan said. “We have a utilities board that has discouraged Yukon Energy and ATCO from doing conservation, peak demand management, those kinds of things.

“They need to be allowed to manage those loads that contribute to that peak.”

For example, Whitehorse doesn’t have LED streetlights, said Maissan. He said ATCO wanted to install them but the board quashed this.

Andrew Hall, CEO of Yukon Energy Corp., acknowledged certain limitations.

“We have a regulatory challenge right now where the utilities board isn’t allowing us to pursue conservation programs, but we’re working with government to address that,” he said.

The report recommends reforming regulations so that the Yukon government isn’t hamstrung.

It goes on to say that the Yukon government should ensure “a serious investment” in hydroelectricity, pumped hydro storage and “large-scale solar and wind technology over the next five years.”

Harnessing biomass is another issue the panel suggests needs more movement on, adding that oil, propane heating contributes the second highest amount of greenhouse gases (16 per cent).

“Both cord wood and wood pellets cost significantly less than conventional heating sources, including electricity,” the report says. “Pairing biomass with electric heating could be incentivized to improve seasonal load, with electric heating during spring/fall, and biomass heating in winter months.”

Roughly 25 per cent of homes use wood as a heat source. This could be scaled up, the report says, “to convert half of the 69 per cent of homes that heat with oil to biomass.”

Contact Julien Gignac at

julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

energy sector

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

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

adsf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read