Yukon touts renewable energy gains

The Yukon government has already surpassed its target to increase renewable energy capacity by 20 per cent by 2020. The territory's Energy Solutions Centre released a progress report last week.

The Yukon government has already surpassed its target to increase renewable energy capacity by 20 per cent by 2020.

The territory’s Energy Solutions Centre released a progress report last week.

It outlines the goals of the Yukon’s energy strategy and the progress that has been made in each area.

At least eight departments across the government are working on different parts of the strategy, said Cathy Cottrell, a senior energy advisor with the government.

It was her job to canvass them all and gauge how they are doing.

One highlight is the work being done on renewable energy, she said.

With the Aishihik third turbine and Mayo B projects online, the government has increased its hydro generation capacity by 22 per cent.

Across the territory, 90 per cent of electricity generation comes from renewable energy sources, said Cottrell.

The government also has a suite of programs in areas of conservation and energy efficiency, she said.

The Good Energy Program gives Yukoners rebates on efficient products, including household appliances and furnaces.

And under the fridge-retirement program, the government will pay Yukoners $50 and pick up and dispose of their old, inefficient refrigerators.

In addition to encouraging Yukoners to be more efficient in their homes, the government is taking a close look at its own energy usage.

The government operates a database that tracks energy usage in its public buildings.

“You can say, ‘We did a bunch of retrofits on this building,’ and boom, you can see the results over here,” said Cottrell.

And energy efficiency is a major consideration in all new construction by the government, she said.

“That has now become one of the key elements in building our buildings and I’m very pleased about that.

“I think that’s the way it’s going to go across Canada now. That’s one of the key considerations, and believe it or not, it didn’t used to be. It’s a bit of a cultural change for the whole country.”

NDP MLA Jim Tredger said that he is always happy to see the government make gains in the areas of renewable energy and efficiency.

But it is not enough, he said.

The time is now for a serious push towards developing wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy sources, said Tredger.

The progress report does in fact outline work that is being done in all of these areas.

But it also speaks to a push for local oil and gas development. That is not the right direction for the Yukon, said Tredger.

“The carbon-based economy is in crisis. The world is in crisis because of it, and we should be moving away from dependency on carbon to the renewable resources. It’s just the way the world has to head.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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