Whitehorse Daily Star

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POWER SOURCE AT WORK – Yukon Energy’s liquefied natural gas facility is seen on Dec. 18, 2022 in Whitehorse.

Power dilemma has been royally messed up

In his letter published in the Star on Jan. 20th, Currie Dixon points out the obvious: that Yukon has a significant shortfall in electricity generation capacity.

By Whitehorse Star on January 27, 2023

In his letter published in the Star on Jan. 20th, Currie Dixon points out the obvious: that Yukon has a significant shortfall in electricity generation capacity.

That the president of Yukon Energy admits to being caught off-guard is revealing.

I have been to many public consultation exercises on electricity here over the last 20 years.

For almost as long, I have been saying that their demand projections were bogus, not taking account of the expected growth in population, electric heating and, still on order, electric vehicles.

Last time I said as much at one of these events, they said I was not the first person to have said this to them.

That Yukon Energy has been “caught off-guard” looks like egregious culpable incompetence.

It is probably not the president’s fault alone. I suspect a corporate culture that militates against right thinking.

We ourselves have just replaced our oil furnace and no-longer-compliant oil tank with an electric heat pump.

Many people are in a similar position of having to bring their heating into compliance, and lots of them will opt to go electric. The problem is only going to get worse.

But we are where we are, and there needs to be action. What are the possible courses of action?


  1. ranks of rented diesel generators;
  2. big new thermal plant;
  3. diminish demand growth by encouraging the use of oil and gas;
  4. lots of solar arrays;
  5. lots of wind turbines;
  6. big new dam;
  7. pumped storage; and
  8. connect to the B.C. grid

Clearly No. 1 is the wrong answer. No. 2 is a step backwards.

No. 3 is so wrong; so damaging to the climate that it is shocking to hear Dixon suggest it.

No. 4 is pretty useless in winter when the demand is highest (but allows water to be held behind dams so it can be used in winter).

No. 5 is pretty good much of the time, but not all the time (and turbines bigger than 3MW are too big to assemble with the cranes available in the North).

No. 6 is nice, but takes forever, and, put almost anywhere, will offend someone or everyone.

No. 7 helps with No. 4 and especially No. 5.

No. 8 punts the problem south but also helps smooth the power availability: it must be windy/sunny somewhere.

None of these are the answer. All of them except the first three are part of the answer.

But time is of the essence. This problem should have been addressed years ago.

Were we right to reject No. 2 in favour of a short-term or even medium-term No. 1?

Yes, and why? Because that array of rented diesel generators is so obviously wrong that it surely will concentrate some minds.

The time has come – actually came years ago – for some serious action.

I am thoroughly disheartened by the slow response to the obvious pending shortfall in capacity.

If a problem as obvious and small as Yukon’s electrical supply can be messed up so royally by inaction, then what’s the hope for addressing the big global problem of carbon emissions?

Peter Coates

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