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Yukon Energy President Andrew Hall

Help conserve energy, YEC asks Yukoners

Yukon Energy is asking Yukoners to make a conscious effort to conserve energy as the mild winter and below-average snowpack means less water for generating electricity.

By Chuck Tobin on April 17, 2019

Yukon Energy is asking Yukoners to make a conscious effort to conserve energy as the mild winter and below-average snowpack means less water for generating electricity.

The Crown corporation sent out a notice Tuesday indicating it will have to rely much more on natural gas generation this spring and fall.

That’s because the water levels in the reservoirs feeding the Whitehorse, Aishihik and Mayo hydro facilities are below average.

The lower the demand on the grid, the less LNG Yukon Energy will have to burn, says Tuesday’s notice.

It asks people to do the simple things like turning off the lights when you leave a room, or taking five-minute showers instead of 10.

Conservation is better for the environment and good for customers who save money, says the notice.

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall said this morning it’s difficult to say exactly how much more natural gas or diesel they’ll have to burn to augment generation because it all depends on how much rain falls this summer.

They’re forecasting they’ll need to generate between 50 and 100 gigawatt hours of electricity this year using primarily natural gas, but they might have to fire up the diesel generators as well, he said.

By comparison, Hall pointed out, Yukon Energy generated 30 GWh with natural gas or diesel in 2018, or about six per cent of the 450 GWh generated in total.

He said the gap in the range of needing somewhere between 50 and 100 GWh of thermal generation this year is large because they just don’t know how much rain they’ll get.

It may be that Yukon Energy will need to appeal further for conservation come September, he said.

The business plan for the Crown corporation anticipates low water years by having a contingency fund, he said, so the corporation does have the money to cover the additional fuel cost without affecting ratepayers immediately.

In 2017, for instance, the Mayo Lake reservoir was below normal, and Aishihik Lake was below normal last year, he pointed.

This year, Hall added, all three reservoirs are down at the same time.

The snowpack for the Marsh Lake watershed is at about 63 per cent of what it would be normally.

With glacier melt contributing to the inflow of water into the system, it’s expected inflow will be 80 per cent of normal, says Tuesday’s notice.

For the Aishihik watershed, the snowpack is 45 per cent of normal, so inflow is expected to be 45 per cent of normal because there is no contribution from glacier melt.

The Mayo Lake snowpack is estimated at 70 per cent of normal so inflow is expected to be 70 per cent of normal.

Hall said generating 50 to 100 gigawatt hours this year with natural gas, or between 11 and 22 per cent of the total, will cost somewhere from $8.5 million to $17 million.

If it starts getting close to 100 GWh, then they might have to start bringing on diesel generation.

That’s the last resort because it’s more expensive and comes with more greenhouse gas emissions compared to natural gas, he explained.

Conservation, Hall insisted, is a real tool that can be used to reduce the need for generation by fossil fuels, even it’s one light switch at a time.

“I think Yukoners always have that opportunity to conserve energy and save on their power bills,” he said.

The Yukon Energy president said the question arises whether the current situation is related to climate change.

Historically, particularly in the late 1990s, there have been drought years, he pointed out.

Hall said the work on the potential impact of climate change Yukon Energy is doing with Yukon College and the University of Quebec shows the years will be warmer, but also wetter.

The annual snow surveys conducted by Environment Yukon every spring are showing the snowpack – and its snow water equivalent – is down by more than 50 per cent across the southwest, and in parts of central Yukon.

In fact, the snow water equivalent is below normal across the entire territory, with the exception of the far north where it’s above normal, such as around Old Crow where it’s above normal by 19 per cent.

Comments (18)

Up 1 Down 0

Peter Cambridge on Apr 24, 2019 at 12:24 pm

We are all doing something but it's clearly not enough.
We are all tied to the climate and things have changed. Based on the size of homes in Whitehorse and the big trucks and all the toys we must use the most energy per capita in Canada.

Let's create more energy in Yukon and I do not care if it's hydroelectric, nuclear, wind or solar.

Up 5 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:54 pm

I was not fair in my previous critisism of the government's energy conservation methods, The Energy Solutions Centre in EMR does an outstanding job of promoting a variety of conservation methods and information on efficient building design and systems. I have benefitted from their help in selecting a new heating system some years ago.
The Housing Corp also had excellent information on system type advantages and how to optimize value for cost.
Energy conservation activities are in place in other government areas as well, Environment has a few Smart cars and electric vehicles they are evaluating within their fleet, The Housing Corp. is working with local companies to improve on how dwellings are designed and constructed in this environment to save energy and costs.

So to say government is doing nothing is unfair, so why are we still witnessing all the lights left on and vehicles idling away when they shouldn't be? Janitorial staff at evening work explains some but not all of these lights. What incentives do the DMs have to be energy frugal within their departments? Perhaps if they got to keep all the energy money they saved would be incentive enough?

Up 23 Down 1

Mr M on Apr 23, 2019 at 7:17 am

Here's an idea for conserving energy turn off some street lights on the highway and in town. To many lights on and they are always telling the residential consumer to conserve or cut back on energy consumption. Let's get YG and the City to cut back on all the lights that are left on in buildings and parking lots. Time for the big guys to step up and show some kind of leadership or being a positive role model in conserving energy. Quit blaming the residential homeowners.

Up 16 Down 2

Groucho d'North on Apr 21, 2019 at 10:29 am

@Lite Bulb
I did not intend to upset you because you work in one of these government buildings, the true hypocrits are the managers and elected folks who sign off on the projects that do not include automated environmental controls when they build or retrofit buildings to make them more energy efficient or less polluting. Simple things such as infra-red light switches detect when people enter and leave a room and turn the lights on and off as needed. HVAC systems are computer contolled for the most part but are not always programmed for the seasonal weather conditions. Even the Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) that are now required for new home construction are going through their experimental stage where the technicians are learning how to adjust them to work at optimum efficiency.
The YG Building Maintenance Branch has numerous suggestions on how they can reduce energy consumption and become more efficient, but these projects never get funded due to budget constraints...even with the Supplementary Budget dispersments in the fall.
Did you know that parking lot plug-ins for Whitehorse YG staff were modified about 10 years ago to operate on a reduced (50-50) duty cycle so the vehicles got the warming they needed and less electrical current was consumed. WIN-WIN and it all happened because a staff member suggested it upwards to managment and it got approved. So it can work IF it is important enough.

Now government will benefit from a windfall of new money from the Carbon Tax and nobody has heard anything from the government on how they can reduce their own over-use of electrical and fossil fuels by investing in these low-cost devises and creating some clear policy on energy use in government owned buildings. Again, they should be leading by example rather than pushing it all on on we citizens.
The ball's in your court Mr. Silver, impress us please.

Up 16 Down 6

Josey Wales on Apr 21, 2019 at 7:58 am

Do we really need hanging kilometres of made in China lights for a couple weeks up...and down, illuminating 2nd ave for THE EFFIN winter?
Rhetorical...I know that call to “conserve” is for thee lowly peasants.
Will I ever cease? Yes, when equity hires and political correctness are footnotes in our history.
So maybe no...not ever!

Up 17 Down 1

Peter Cambridge on Apr 19, 2019 at 5:50 pm

I agree with Groucho
YES, yes we can conserve but please start increasing energy production because demand is increasing and you have not prepared for it.

Up 4 Down 7

Politico on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:39 pm

@Light bulb on. You are correct but forgot to mention that all big box stores are controlled from their head offices. The locals can't control lights, heat or cold!

Up 7 Down 17

Light bulb on Apr 18, 2019 at 5:45 pm

@ Groucho
How does some ‘hypocrite’ (your words) working as a finance clerk or policy analyst for GOC, YG or COW have access to controlling building HVAC or lighting?

Clearly you have no clue about the mechanics of government. Stop just saying words for the sake of it.

Up 15 Down 1

AL on Apr 18, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Yup, I just knew that I would be blamed.

Up 33 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Walk, cycle, or even drive your CO2 belching vehicle around town at night and look for all the unoccupied work places that still have their lights on. These are where the hypocrites work. You can bet the heating systems are not programmed to be on a reduced duty cycle during the non-work hours either. Yes, most of the offending workplaces are government owned or leased buildings. Government needs to lead by example, rather than grabbing for more of our money in either taxes or utility charges.

Up 29 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:21 pm

I'd like to see an honest and up to date comparision of features and benefits for all potential energy generator types. Then compile all the negatives associated with each option. I'm betting nuclear would win out as the best option overall.

Up 33 Down 2

North_of_60 on Apr 18, 2019 at 1:24 pm

YE could use less fuel if they stored more water in the huge southern lakes reservoir. It's a totally renewable option and 5 times more efficient than wind or solar. The infrastructure to do it is already in place. It's not being done for political reasons because a few influential NIMBYs don't want September water levels maintained throughout the winter. What gives them the right to make the rest of us pay more for electricity to satisfy their whims?

Up 38 Down 4

Max Mack on Apr 18, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Perhaps Yukon Energy and Atco could have used their considerable influence to persuade GY, CoW, CMHC, Yukon Housing and builders not to install electric heating in all new buildings.
Instead, all of the key players have intentionally allowed a crisis to develop.
Predictably, they are "asking" consumers to bear the costs of their deliberate scheming.

Up 29 Down 1

Bill White on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:41 pm

What infrastructure has been acquired with the outrageous sums approved at the last recent rate hearings? I don't care what they pay for power elsewhere. We have a dam with generators, they don't.

Up 34 Down 4

ice age on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:56 pm

Enough of the propaganda and lies. The constant push for everything from electric car charging stations, baseboard heaters and victoria gold + other mines and lack of planning to increase supply based on historical data (beyond the age of a snowflake) is the root of this lack of supply. During the maunder minimum 400 years, Alaska and Yukon did get somewhat warmer due to changes in the jet streams as a result of cooling pretty much everywhere else. Somehow conveniently the worldwide record cold temperatures and crop failures don't get widely reported since they expose the agenda of taxing people into abject poverty and slavery. Build more LNG trains, add an incinerator to burn garbage and generate power back.

Up 50 Down 0

Dave on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Ok, enough is enough here. If the power grid is that fragile considering within the last decade everyone switched to low wattage lightbulbs and energy efficient appliances then it’s time to s—- or get off the pot and make an executive decision regarding concrete expansion of Yukon’s power sources. Come on YEC, stop running around crying the sky is falling, do your heavily subsidized job already and get some new generation going. Sandy Silver this is your responsibility as well, be a leader and get something done here!

Up 31 Down 2

Grieco on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

Ok all you peeps living in the eco friendly subdivision of Whistlebend shut off your heat!!

Up 21 Down 2

Burger Man on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Good Luck with that.

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