Whitehorse Daily Star

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Janet Patterson

Cold toppled energy use records like dominoes

In the final frigid days of 2017, the territory broke its energy consumption record three times, according to Yukon Energy.

By Taylor Blewett on January 2, 2018

In the final frigid days of 2017, the territory broke its energy consumption record three times, according to Yukon Energy.

The morning of Dec. 15, 2016 saw the previous usage record of 88.13 megawatts established.

This was exceeded just over a year later, at 5:41 p.m. last Thursday, when usage reached 89.25 megawatts.

The following day, the record was broken again, at 89.90 megawatts, and for a final time – for now – at 5:16 p.m. Saturday at 92.69 megawatts.

Yukon Energy spokesperson Janet Patterson said this morning the period of record-breaking usage can be explained by the cold snap in which it occurred.

The last days of December saw frigid temperature lows in the -30s C in Whitehorse, according to Environment Canada.

Residents of some areas on the periphery of the capital awakened to temperatures of -40 or colder on Saturday morning. Other areas of the Yukon dipped into the mid -40s.

“We see the highest peaks in the coldest weather,” Patterson explained.

“Clearly, you’re not going to have as much energy usage at -3 than you have at -30.”

The December peaks fit an overall pattern of rising energy consumption in the territory, according to Patterson.

A major reason for the trend is the number of new homes and condos being built with electric heat systems.

“We always encourage people to be careful with the electricity they use. That’s just a message no matter what,” Patterson said.

“Certainly on days where we’re using a lot of thermal, we always encourage people to try to conserve where they can.”

In peak periods, high hydro demand prompts Yukon Energy to supplement this power source with thermal – natural gas and/or diesel.

“Our preference is to generate as little electricity as possible using non-renewable resources,” reads the Yukon Energy consumption webpage.

“Any time you see us using thermal for generation, we would encourage all customers (residential, small business, government and industrial) to try to keep discretionary energy use to a minimum.”

A breakdown of hydro versus thermal consumption was not available for Saturday’s peak.

Data from the daily load consumption, however, show that 425.4 megawatt hours of thermal and 1,563.2 megawatt hours of hydro were consumed – about a 20/80 split.

Going forward, Patterson said, weather will likely determine whether or not the consumption record is broken yet again.

In the meantime, the territory’s residents are encouraged to keep a Yukon Energy adage in mind: “Just use what you need.”

Comments (18)

Up 0 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jan 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm

More engineering than science Ken M. but I have the skills to do that but would need the proper GIS software, relevant databases and geospatial info to proceed. Would love to sink my teeth into that project. I think it might show that a lot of people moving here from wherever Outside are big time consumers of energy.

Oh, for sure all the streetlights are draining the grid. Moving to LED lighting doesn't mean going hog wild with new installations which also adds to light pollution.

Shame on the Nimby crowd going against a wee rise of water levels in the Southern Lakes and any new hydro power projects. They are the same ones that went nuts over the LNG facility and oppose hard rock metals mines that we will need to manufacture the badly needed solar panels and wind turbines to get us off hydrocarbons.

Up 0 Down 0

Ken M. on Jan 8, 2018 at 5:57 am

Is it just me or has there been no power outages since YEC received it's latest generous rate increase?
As an aside, PSG are you ever going to post something scientific like a table showing generating capacites at each node along with line losses for each link from those 3 nodes complete with apparent power, reactive power and true power, power factor in short or just your usual rhetoric which has no science from what I can ascertain. Fake scientist.

Up 5 Down 0

north_of_60 on Jan 5, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Generating capacity at Whitehorse Rapids could be increased substantially at a very nominal cost. The infrastructure is already in place to hold September water levels in the Southern Lakes into the winter. The only thing preventing this is regressive attitudes of ignorant but influential NIMBYs who hold the rest of us hostage to increased electricity costs.

Up 3 Down 3

BB on Jan 4, 2018 at 5:26 pm

There are a ridiculous number of street lights illuminating an empty highway and empty city streets all night. Start there.
Wood heat is the next step.

That's all I have to say today!

Up 3 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Jan 4, 2018 at 12:28 pm

On the topic of YEC nearing the limit of their generating capacity, I believe a significant amount of current could be saved by just shutting off all the superfluous lighting in Whitehorse. Over the holidays we visited with friends and family in various Whitehorse neighbourhoods and I noticed plenty of lights on in empty buildings like schools and government offices and their parking lots, and as taxpayers we shell out money to pay for this waste, I suspect the government policy people are not too motivated to clean up their own act and reduce energy consumption on the grid. But if these expenses came out of their departmental operating budgets, I’m sure we’d see some improvements.
I recall an inspiring solution to reducing the consumption by cars plugged in at government parking lots during the daytime hours. A timer system was installed so that half of the vehicles would be on at one time, then a couple hours later, the energy would swap to the other cars so they could be warmed. The system would go back and forth all day & night and reduced electrical consumption very well. I suspect a similar system could be developed for all the coolers and freezers in the many grocery stores in Whitehorse as well as the hotels and other establishments that have electrical powered cooling systems.
These are not expensive solutions but do require some capital for system engineering and a few required parts like relays, cabling and timing mechanisms and labor to install them. Perhaps government could explore the value of providing financial incentives for these commercial operators to pursue energy-saving solutions such as these?

Up 8 Down 1

Charles on Jan 3, 2018 at 6:27 pm

Agree with 'My Op'. With have an abundance of water - lakes and canyons. Quit messing around and get on with additional hydro based development. Not so long ago we had feasibility studies done on various potential locations of different sizes. Some were not suitable, but various groups found something wrong with other locations. Often the naysayers are same ones who demand clean energy & don't want diesel used. We can't have it all ways - time for decisions on what exactly people do want. Whatever the decision, all choices have consequences that have to be lived with if we want electricity.

Up 5 Down 1

woodcutter on Jan 3, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Chop chop, warm house and no $$$ to Yukon electric. Too cold to go cut wood, sure was a nice rest sitting in my cozy warm house.

Up 8 Down 1

Hugh Mungus on Jan 3, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Yukon Energy has dropped the ball on this. They should have had a new Hydro project in the final commissioning stages by now. 8000 people in Whistle Bend soon and many of those homes are on electric heat. Plus that massive extended care facility. Population continues to grow. God forbid a mine opens and pulls 2 or 3 MW and plunging the Yukon into perpetual brown outs and black outs.

Up 2 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on Jan 3, 2018 at 2:35 pm

That wasn't even a real cold snap.

So who's using all this energy? Pretty easy to tell one would think with modern GIS and metering tech. Guessing the truth needs to come out on that but may not as so many that think they're being green are actually big pigs when it comes to energy usage.

The AGW hyperbole began with Al Gore's stupid movie Groucho and with the far left and deep green hijacking the issue. It makes me sick. The carbon sin tax even more so.

But that doesn't mean that human energy usage, burning hydrocarbons as fast as we can pull them out of the ground, and living in a throwaway big box store manner isn't interfering with normal global climate cycles. You're one of the smarter people here, just do the math on that. The atmosphere is of finite size and our output of GHGs is huge, way bigger than normal volcanic activity and that has to be included in atmospheric science calculations and modeling. We're a big deal on this planet and that can't be ignored.

Sorry wake up but InfoWars isn't a valid source of science, or anything else as far as that goes.

Up 6 Down 0

Alan Boomer on Jan 3, 2018 at 12:47 pm

We need more hydroelectric energy production (dam and reservoir and facility) or a small nuclear facility,

It's as simple as that. Look at the size of new homes and the large trucks, people do not conserve enough to make a difference.

Up 11 Down 0

My Opinion on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:19 am

Yukon Energy has brought in four extra diesel units that are sitting hooked up and ready at the facility on the south access. Obviously we are close to over capacity. We better get some more Hydro capacity being built or we will be in trouble. Nothing is cleaner then Hydro and also available year around and storable. Let's stop all the navel gazing and get at it.

Up 4 Down 1

My Opinion on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:16 am

Was reading yesterday about the Cost of Bitcoin to the power grid. Had no idea. The problem solving aspect to Bitcoin uses huge computers in facilities all over the world but also in private homes. The electrical use is mind boggling. A single Bitcoin transaction can use as much power as heating a four bedroom home for several days and total consumption per year equals the power use of Belgium. That should be outlawed right now.

Up 8 Down 1

Get a bigger grid on Jan 3, 2018 at 8:55 am

I'll make an effort to try to reduce my energy consumption when Yukon Energy makes an attempt to acknowledge that there are way more buildings attached to the system and maybe they need to expand their grid instead of blaming residents for using a service that we pay out the nose for. If I'm (over) paying for a service, I should be able to use as much as that service as I'm willing to pay for.

Up 2 Down 5

Sally on Jan 2, 2018 at 10:02 pm

So the energy conservation program of buying led lights and other energy smart devices have had no effect on usage what-so-ever. The last newspaper article YEC ran they said they would be using one LNG generator because through some miraculous freak of nature only Mayo Lake received no rain last summer and wouldn't be able to contribute to the grid. Since then I have noticed on drive bys that both LNG generators are running full blast all the time. Things are not what they seem and me thinks that YEC has a contract to burn up so much LNG and that will be done regardless of anything else. Stay tuned for more Grymms Fairy Tales.

Up 8 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:34 pm

A novel use of Newspeak by referring to fossil fuel energy generation as 'thermal' as in global warming thermal. When does all this climate spin just become hyperbole?

Up 8 Down 2

Nile Nukon on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:22 pm

This is only going to get worse. We were all told that we need to replace our wood and diesel heat with electric. It was supposed to be more environmental instead it just meant more revenue for Yukon Energy. Anyone with half a brain could have seen this coming.

Up 7 Down 0

Andrew on Jan 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

I certainly tried to limit any unnecessary electrical use on those cold weather days. Also my employer made sure no company vehicles were left plugged in unnecessarily over the holiday break, a few vehicles pulling 1000-1500 watts each for no reason makes a difference.

Up 7 Down 0

wake up on Jan 2, 2018 at 3:36 pm

Better start adding LNG capacity ASAP as we are entering a mini ice age due to reduced energy output from the sun. While the elite thieves have been stealing from the people in the name of global warming, the peasants will be left freezing & hungry... increases to crop failures due to early frost etc are happening around the world on a daily basis.

Get ready folks, it will only start getting colder as we transition into a grand solar minimum period.

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