Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 13, 2013

Generating project consultation period may lengthen

An extension to receive public input on Yukon Energy’s proposal to build a new generating facility powered by natural gas is being considered, says YESAB’s chair.

By Chuck Tobin on December 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Stephen Mills

An extension to receive public input on Yukon Energy’s proposal to build a new generating facility powered by natural gas is being considered, says YESAB’s chair.

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board had announced recently it would not extend the comment period beyond the Dec. 20 deadline.

It felt the initial 30 days were sufficient for a project of this size.

But board chair Stephen Mills announced Wednesday night at a public meeting the board is reconsidering its position on the deadline.

There is an increasing number of requests for a 30-day extension, including a request made Tuesday by the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, he pointed out.

The public meeting hosted by YESAB to gather input on Yukon Energy’s proposal was attended by approximately 100 members of the public.

A couple of audience members also requested an extension to the comment period, and almost chided Mills and executive committee members Ken McKinnon and Dave Keenan for not agreeing to an extra 30 days.

It’s Christmas time, they pointed out, saying it’s difficult to wrap one’s head around such a sophisticated project proposal while working on the list of presents for the kids and everything else associated with the festive season.

An additional 30 days, after all, wouldn’t amount to a whole lot of bother for the assessment board, one of the women told Mills.

“Come on, you guys,” she said, as though to suggest they shouldn’t make such a big deal over what is a simple decision.

Yukon Energy’s proposal was rejected across the board by members of the audience who voiced their opinions.

Dan Reams of Watson Lake was the only voice of support, though Reams did not identify himself as a member of the board of directors for the Yukon Development Corp., Yukon Energy’s parent corporation.

Yukon Energy maintains the two largest diesel generators at the Whitehorse Rapids Dam have reached the end of their lives and need to be replaced, one way or the other.

Going with two new natural gas units would mean huge savings in fuel costs and improved air quality from exhaust emissions, the corporation maintains.

Yukon Energy says the $34 million to build a new facility beside Robert Service Way near the dam is only slightly more than the $31 million that would be needed to replace the diesels with new diesel.

Going with new diesels would require substantial upgrades to the existing diesel plant, it was explained Wednesday.

Yukon Energy maintains the $3-million difference would be covered in two or three years by fuel-saving.

Opposition voiced Wednesday revolved around two aspects, essentially.

It is a myth to suggest natural gas is easier on the environment than diesel fuel, once everything is taken into consideration, particularly if the natural gas is obtained through hydraulic fracturing, it was said.

It was also suggested opening the door to the use of natural gas in the Yukon would result in a desire to boost production of natural gas in the territory, and ultimately fracking.

The Ta’an Kwach’an Council and the Kwanlin Dun First Nation are negotiating a business partnership in Yukon Energy’s proposal.

See related story below.

CommentsAdd a comment

Frank Smiley

Dec 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I would like to know why the land leasing with White Pass fell through. And I agree much thought needs to be given to Yukon Energy’s proposal.

Also, with many potential mines being developed in the Yukon and the way our highways are being torn up by ore trucks, where is YTG on the issue of developing rail service to tidewater. Its not very far from Whitehorse to the Carmacks area and Skagway has a deep port. It’s time to develop the benefits/costs associated with bringing rail service back to Whitehorse and possibly beyond.

Max Mack

Dec 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

I hope YESAB isn’t catering exclusively to the “environmentalists” or the “pro-development” crowd. There are a lot of people who are interested in this proposal that aren’t necessarily for or against. Just because I’m not at the meetings as an “intervener” does not mean that I’m not interested.

I do not agree that gas development necessarily leads to hydraulic fracturing. Nor do I agree that gas development is “bad” for the environment, compared to wind and solar generation. I also do not agree that hydraulic fracturing is inherently evil.

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