Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Electric thermal storage: so far, so good

What do we want? Energy storage! When do we want it? NOW!

In mid-September, Yukon Conservation Society (YCS), supported by Yukon government’s Energy Branch, Government of Canada, Yukon Energy, and Yukon University saw their first residential electric thermal storage (ETS) furnace installed as part of a testing program to gauge the viability and efficacy of this system in Yukon. Our older downtown Whitehorse house was chosen for that first installation. And, after a month of service, I am thrilled to report my appreciation of its function and gratefulness for having been chosen based on structural and energy demand criteria.

The simple description is, after my oil burner furnace was removed, the new furnace housing was put in its place and a metric tonne of iron impregnated bricks were positioned inside with electric heating elements installed in an array. This device is a forced air Steffes model using some of the existing ductwork with necessary fabrication done by the installer (Certified Heating & Service).

Prior to that, Solvest Inc., upgraded our existing electrical panel from 125 to 200 amps to support the electrical demand.

The unit will be connected via internet to YCS for the duration of the project, with sensors reporting inside and outside temperatures to YCS, and directing necessary electric energy input accordingly during off-peak hours. YCS will collect and provide coded data on the ETS unit’s operation to their research partners at Yukon University.

While I had some hesitancy about enrolling in the project because of the amount of money I would be outlaying and also that my existing furnace was only 10 years old, it was a conversation with J. P. Pinard, that made me make an immediate shift. He said, “Norman, you will be cutting your carbon footprint in half!”

The lightbulb lit!

We are fortunate to have Yukon’s existing hydro-generated electricity, but with growing residential and commercial demands surpassing its capacity, “dirty” diesel and LNG use is increasing. We can tolerate this for now, but it is an untenable insult to the environment and the future of our biosphere. Fossil fuel energy is the easy source of energy, but that ease has dulled us to complacency around its inevitable negative, if not dire, consequences.

While the problems associated with fossil fuel use have been identified and freeze many into states of hopelessness, it is programs like this that search for and test possible solutions that should give us hope. Our current hydro-generated power could not support a significant number of ETS devices, but, as visionaries like Pinard suggests, a multi-megawatt “wind farm” installation could supply a cost-effective source of electricity to feed these devices with much less environmental impact.

Yes, there are significant up-front costs. More than the average consumer is prepared to pay. Therefore, it is incumbent upon governments to seed fund the research, development, and testing of possible solutions along many avenues. Some will prove lacking. However, without starting, the possible solutions will remain unfound.

Norman Holler

Whitehorse, Yukon

Society says time to return the favour

Like so many Yukon community events and festivals, the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival has benefitted very much from Air North’s support over the years. We appreciated Keith Halliday’s Oct. 16 Yukonomist article about the value that our home-grown airline brings to the territory, and we wanted to add our voice and some experiences to the mix.

Air North has been a diamond-level sponsor of KMBF for many years. We simply could not afford to bring in word-class musicians from all over North America without their support to offset the costs of flying North of 60. They help us get our performers here affordably, and with a lot of class to boot.

A few years ago, we were in an air travel jam. Most of our headlining performers were stuck in Vancouver, having missed their connections to Whitehorse because of delays on a major carrier. It looked as if the festival’s opening night would be a disaster. Our artistic director reached out to Air North, desperate for a solution. They not only managed to get all our artists on a flight, they actually comped their fares! One of the highlights of the festival was the thunderous applause from the crowd as we announced what Air North had done for us. It later came out that they had also pre-boarded the musicians and their (very valuable) instruments to make sure there was enough room for them as carry-on. This prompted the Grascals’ ace banjo player Kristin Scott Benson to write a heartfelt letter of appreciation to the Yukon News. She described the experience of flying with Air North as being like falling into comforting arms.

The value Air North brings to our tourism and industry sectors is indisputable, but so is the value they bring to our communities through their steady and gracious support of sporting, cultural and artistic events like ours. We all need to put our support behind them now, to keep them doing what they do best – treating people like gold.

Yukon Bluegrass Music Society board

Letters to the editor

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

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read