Whitehorse Daily Star

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Vanessa Just

Potential battery site generates wide opposition from neighbours

Vanessa Just is among many opposed to having a large battery storage facility placed next to Yukon Energy’s substation along the North Klondike Highway.

By Chuck Tobin on September 18, 2020

Vanessa Just is among many opposed to having a large battery storage facility placed next to Yukon Energy’s substation along the North Klondike Highway.

Just told the Star in an interview Wednesday there were about 15 area residents who attended a meeting at the Hootalinqua Volunteer Fire Hall hosted Tuesday evening by Yukon Energy.

Most but not everybody spoke; those that did, however, voiced their opposition just like her, she said.

Just said she and the others are not opposed to having a battery storage facility on the grid. They are opposed to placing it in what is essentially the middle of their neighbourhood, she said.

Just said there are 13 properties within 300 metres of the site, and none are closer than her family’s home and their agricultural parcel.

“The meeting was very solemn and sad,” she said. “You could tell the residents were very hurt, and many said they felt disrespected and not heard.”

Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers also voiced his opposition, she said.

Yukon Energy is proposing to install a large battery storage system on the grid. It would be used in case of power outages or when peak demand requires it to lessen the dependency on diesel generation.

The proposal laid out by Yukon Energy estimates the size of the site needed is about half the size of a Canadian football field.

The Crown corporation is also looking at two other sites: one across Robert Service Way from the LNG plant, near the area the city uses in the winter as a snow dump; the third option is up the hill from the snow dump site, near the intersection of Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway.

All three sites are located on settlement land belonging to the Kwanlin Dün First Nation or the Ta’an Kwach’an Council.

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall told the Star Thursday morning officials want to have the site selected by the end of November, for sure by the end of the year, with the plant operational by early 2022. (See further details in separate story, this page).

Just said Yukon Energy was unable at Tuesday’s meeting to answer questions she put forward at last week’s virtual meeting.

Staff were not, for instance, able to tell her what they expect the noise level would be at her home, she said.

Officials said they haven’t completed a site design to determine exactly how far the facility would be from her house and a cabin she rents out that is even closer to the property line, she said.

Yukon Energy, she said, indicated the noise would be similar to a hum from a refrigerator.

Just said anyway you slice it, it would be close, way too close. Her property line abuts the site under consideration by Yukon Energy.

Her family chose to purchase their property in May because they wanted to enjoy the country lifestyle, and they want to raise cows, pigs and chickens to supply meat and eggs to the local market. They already have a couple of cows.

A practising nurse, Just said she has safety concerns, particularly about the increased threat of fire if something goes wrong at the facility.

She believes if the facility is located next door to their seven acres, the value of her property could take a significant hit, a six-figure hit.

Just wonders if there would be a concern about the quality of the meat her family produces, given there would be constant ventilation systems running next door to keep the batteries cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

There is the matter of whether she’d be able to continue renting the cabin, given its proximity to the low-humming fridge. It’s revenue her family counts on to help with the mortgage.

The facility would be surrounded by a large fence, and the site would be lit up 24/7 as part of the security provisions, she said.

“It will be like having a prison next door,” Just said.

She wonders if Yukon Energy is looking at the North Klondike Highway site simply to avoid having to pay $210,000 a year in property taxes to the city.

Ross Dorward is another area resident who is staunchly opposed.

Dorward lives right across the highway from the proposed sight, and, like Just, he feels if the facility is located there, his property value would take a hit.

You don’t have to search too far on the internet to find information about fire issues with large, grid-size storage batteries, he said.

Dorward, like Just, isn’t happy about Yukon Energy’s efforts to ensure area residents were aware of meetings it would be holding to discuss the project.

He received the notification about last week’s virtual meeting, but he has neighbours who did not – including Just.

Dorward, an engineer by profession, said if Yukon Energy wants to know about the impact of the noise, there are systems you can use to determine that.

The North Klondike site, he said, is the only one of the three sites with a concentration of residential properties nearby.

“It’s day and night, the difference,” he said.

“They are trying to do a good job, and generally speaking they put a lot of effort into public relations,” he said.

“I think they dropped the ball on this one. There just wasn’t enough notice.”

Comments (27)

Up 3 Down 2

Woodcutter on Sep 24, 2020 at 12:52 pm

@opinion - your dead wrong about FN getting property taxes, they would get rent if they negotiated for it. A stroll thru the umbrella final agreement might be in order for you.

Up 3 Down 3

My Opinion on Sep 23, 2020 at 4:45 pm

I think the CAFN push to not allow the water licence renewal for that Dam could have a lot to do with the timing. Time to look in that direction.
Also talk of city charging taxes for those other options think again. FN lands gets the taxes plus the substantial rent.

Up 12 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Sep 23, 2020 at 12:15 pm

After rereading this story I was intrigued by Mr. Dorward's comments, specifically: “I think they dropped the ball on this one. There just wasn’t enough notice.”
I would go further and say there was no notice of this project as it is being proposed today.
Sept. 5, 2019 YEC announced $60 million in federal funding had been secured for the battery project and to replace a 31-kilometre stretch of the Stewart-Keno transmission line. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yec-funding-battery-powerline-1.5272112. That's it. No further information was shared with Yukoners about the battery project or the three options in debate today. As I stated previously, there were a number of opportunities to inform the public about the battery project plans during related meetings for the LNG generation proposal. That did not happen.
The first many residents in the affected area heard about the battery proposal was when YEC began leaving hand-outs with information about their plans on our door-knobs in advance of the neighbourhood meeting to be held the next evening. Subsequently, there is a lot of information now up on the YEC website about battery technology.
As Mr. Dorward said, Normally YEC is pretty good at public relations, perhaps YEC is feeling the loss of their long-time communications specialist Janet Patterson who used to lead these public consultations or YEC is now trying the strong-arm tactics to push their projects along? We'll see,

Up 12 Down 16

Woodcutter on Sep 22, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Of all the three sites, I'd say this is the best one. I couldn't imagine utilizing the hi value commercial/residential/ industrial locations in its stead. It too bad for the folks in the neighborhood that you are the ones facing the ugliness of progress, but for the common welfare of us all, it appears it's yours to deal with. I wouldn't be too worried about your values and income, they don't make no more land anymore and you could get $500 month for a camper on today's market.

I for one say, let's get on with it, bring in the excavators.

Up 6 Down 8

Rolf on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:08 am

I vote for removal of all the junk (eyesore) at North Klondike corner and placing batteries there. Kill two birds with one stone.
The damn site is a great recreation site that the moto-cross people, mud-bog and many others who have no place to take their dogs in winter use it.
Let's not forget that this currently serves as a snow dump that the city fills up every winter. If the eyesore corner is not favorable then the current sub-station is best for not putting all your eggs in one basket and may be the best overall anyways.
Now try to think, (who uses this dam site currently) then try to think about the NKHT substation (who uses this site and for what)? I think the answer is fairly obvious.

Up 21 Down 4

wow - people are just getting nastier and nastier on Sep 21, 2020 at 5:15 pm

There's no need to attack this family like some of the commenters have done - I can't imagine anyone being happy to see a complex like this going in next to one's property. But even so, if you disagree with her position, getting personal and attacking her is pretty low.

Up 30 Down 11

Confused ... on Sep 20, 2020 at 9:37 pm

The best kind of NIMBYism is when you haven't been there long enough to even know what your own back yard looks like. What a joke.

Up 22 Down 4

Wes on Sep 20, 2020 at 7:51 pm

Battery storage makes sense, but only if YEC incorporates smart meters so they can implement load shedding. If we can store the hydro power we're not using at night, why not? There's so much we could be doing but we're not, with respect to load shedding. Larger DHW tanks that can carry us through the peak demand (mornings) then recharge during times of less demand.

Up 28 Down 13

BnR on Sep 20, 2020 at 7:43 pm

Windmills cause cancer!!!!
5G causes C-19!!!
Battery storage will devalue my property!!
Her e-mails!!
Man, if I have to go to WGH, I hope she's not on duty....

Up 20 Down 10

Nathan Living on Sep 20, 2020 at 1:21 pm

The City should not tax Yukon Energy to have this facility located within city limits and it could go across from Yukon Energy at the dirt bike site. This site would provide easy access and good security options etc.

People move their bikes via trailers to this site anyways so with financial assistance from Yukon Energy the bike area can be relocated to a more ideal site.

It's a win win for all involved. I am offering this without consultation fees. Remember that the site is also a snow dump area thus it's already industrial and it's noisy in summer at times due to the dirt bikes. It's also close to fire departments.

This should sail through a YESAB review .

Up 53 Down 7

Joe on Sep 20, 2020 at 8:31 am

Hey! I have 3 acres at Mt. Sima I can rent to you. How can I get in on this deal? Why is it going to FN sites? I want to compete on this bid.

Up 37 Down 8

Pete Ladrew on Sep 20, 2020 at 4:55 am

That's great, we've got the squatters telling the regular paying customers where they can put the infrastructure not paid for on an equal basis by aforementioned on economy ticket.

Up 17 Down 32

Gail Nardi on Sep 19, 2020 at 3:42 pm

You can add my voice to those opposed. Though I did not attend the meeting, I did email my objections and the reasons for them to Yukon Energy. Sites B and C would be closer to emergency response services in the event of a fire, as well as being in locations suitable for commercial/industrial use. Site A on the Klondike Highway as proposed is served only by the Hootalinqua Volunteer Fire Department. Site A is also surrounded by a lot of residences in an area that gets much less rainfall than the City of Whitehorse. Oh, wait. I just realized--we don't live within City limits and don't pay City taxes because we maintain our own water and sewer. That must make us the Expendables.

Up 34 Down 12

Groucho d'North on Sep 19, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Some assumptions need to be corrected for those who comment without any investigation into the matter.

NIMBY Who, none of the properties related to this story are agricultural land, all are long time (50+ year) residential properties including the plot of land YEC has selected for this project. It was gifted to Kwanlin Dun when the previous owner moved to Alberta to retire.

Matthew, The proposed battery project does not require a loud diesel generator to charge the batteries, rather it works like a trickle charger directly from the WAF grid charging the batteries during the off-peak periods. It is a smart solution for the electrical system woes at this time. What the battery system does is it allows for smart management of the electrical grid - it does not add new generation to the capacity, but it stores 20 Megawatts which can be added to the system as demands determine.

New generation was considered for this same plot of land when YEC conducted consultations on building a 20 megawatt LNG plant here last year. They heard very clearly that a LNG or diesel generation site was not welcomed here or anywhere else for that matter. However during this same consultation there was no mention of this battery project that appeared out of nowhere. I checked local media and YEC’s website the battery project concept was announced about a year ago but was very light on details. CBC still has their story on line while YEC has nothing on line regarding the announcement.

Public information about the photovoltaic generation project a little further down the highway was covered quite well earlier in 2020, but again, little was heard about the battery project until it was time for public meetings on location options.

I must also defend the Just’s who recently paid some major bucks to purchase their new home only to discover a few months later that this battery project proposal was in consideration. The project was so well hidden that the real estate agent did not even hear about it while doing their diligence before the sale was concluded.

A lot has been happening with YEC and their various activities to ensure the smart, effective and responsible development of Yukon’s energy infrastructure, so much so, that it appears that some things are beginning to fall off the table - like keeping the public informed about progress and how we are to participate.

As others below have said residential placement of this project makes little sense when there are two other options that will not impact on residential quality of life. Also let's try and keep all the similar infrastructure together in a common location- I nominate the site across from the dam for this battery project.

Up 32 Down 40

Trent Callahan on Sep 19, 2020 at 11:08 am

What, would these people rather have a diesel plant next door? This is a great initiative YEC is undertaking, and the North Klondike site is clearly the best suited - the other two sites are in the urban core of Whitehorse and should be left for higher-value uses like housing.

Up 10 Down 18

Wilf Carter on Sep 19, 2020 at 10:44 am

It's time all our governments work together for solutions that impact us all. What is seen here again is failure of Whitehorse and Yukon Government finding solutions not more problems. When looking back over the 7 years Whitehorse has created more problems then they have solved. Big example is sewage main not been maintained going across Yukon river and if that had let go there would be a lot crap in the river. Water mains in downtown breaking and flowing. Residents were told an all services building in Whitehorse would cost a total of $55 million dollars but the real number was $90 million. Now no one seems to know what the total final cost for our new building on the hill is. Why is the City not putting out the final numbers with all cost in so we know the truth? Like the removal of the old building downtown $6 to $8 million. When is it going to be removed?
Then we have the danger from possible forest fires in Whitehorse. Residents were informed 4 years ago - no problem we have it all under control. But when a report comes that shows Whitehorse was in high risk of fire danger did someone final take some action. Now they're cutting and thinning forest around Whitehorse.
Why weren't Residents told the truth about things and not hidden from us? Cover on the Riverdale bridge is coming off because the original work was just a patch job. Why? It's not the city employees because they do a great job far as most people can see.
Why does our side streets only get plowed once a year and especially with all the snow we had last year? Cars could not drive down the street. Ambulance could not come down our street because of to much snow. This is major health concern for seniors or people with illness are not safe in their own homes.
Residents there a long list of things that should be on top of a city proprieties list for all of us but they are not there. Why?

Up 38 Down 0

Jake The Bosun on Sep 19, 2020 at 7:39 am

The Substation is already right there is it not, available to connect and maintain, and it's next to the highway (within a hundred feet or so). Was this property not Commercial?

Up 6 Down 21

George T on Sep 19, 2020 at 7:11 am

Wow, Yukon Energy trying your bilk more money from the city (who’s rate payers pay the most of their income) by threatening to put a major industrial building outside of it. Good on these residents for calling out Yukon Energy! I’m wondering how much the fire Marshall’s office has had in this? Advising they have the ability to respond to an actual major incident at this location. They toot their horn loudly for “special” response capabilities with groups like SHOT SOMET, yet they are rarely able to offer quick and qualified response. They would love a Battery Bank in their jurisdiction. Another excuse to direct all fire marshal funding away from any northern community and their volunteers, to the small group of unqualified full time YG employees/contractors that surround the Fire Marshall’s Office.

Up 29 Down 17

NickyB on Sep 18, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Batteries are not "clean" by any stretch of the imagination unless you're blind to reality. The mines to extract the raw materials like cobalt use child slave labor and destroy the ecosystems that the indigenous people there rely on. The manufacturing is in Asia where there are no environmental or human right's regulations to make it unprofitable. The factories are powered by dirty coal spewing toxic pollution and the toxic waste from the battery manufacturing is dumped on the land, into the water and air.

But that's all OK with the greenwashed woke generation; the negative effects don't impact any of their social media friends so it's not important.

Up 30 Down 16

JC on Sep 18, 2020 at 6:06 pm

For goodness sake, the Yukon is large. There are plenty of places where this project could be located. Why do they always have to put it in places where people live? A good place to put it would be White Pass' Utah yard. White Pass isn't using it, and probably never will. Yukon Energy can rent space there. No neighbours around to put up with any noise.

Up 25 Down 25

Green Is Stupid on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Stop it with the NIMBYisms... It is intellectually weak to dismiss someone’s concerns so tritely and in such unthinking cliche provocations.

Batteries are environmentally destructive. This is stupid... But I guess as with the current Yukon Government... Stupid is as stupid does... The green hypocrites!

Up 22 Down 13

So? Can we all agree on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:15 pm

That we only want green energy (which it isn't) as long as their is ZERO impact to our lives?
That way we get to feel happy about saving earth in our conscience.

Fully on board with the home owners. An industrial structure in the middle of a rural area does not fit in line with the character/nature of the space.
Batteries near an electrical station makes more sense. Your techs travel no distance to work on them.

For all those pushing green energy, including some councilors, I ask that you look at the serious effect on the environment. There is no way that an impact study was done to look at the raise in ambient temperatures. Batteries being maintained 24hrs a day releases heat.

Up 47 Down 18

Nathan Living on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Site selection should involve avoiding residences and not forcing the facility on anyone.
There should also be a YESAB review. Maybe near the dirt bike track is best location.

Up 65 Down 36

NIMBY Who on Sep 18, 2020 at 4:33 pm

So, people who have Agricultural Lots that they got for a "song" back in the day are opposed to developments that help the greater Yukon with energy security and backup. Wow...

As for the avoiding city taxes based on site selection, good decision, saves all the rate payers, you know, the people who paid taxes that helped provide your discounted Ag lot.

Up 30 Down 34

Matthew on Sep 18, 2020 at 4:03 pm

Oh my.. so battery tech changes so quickly these will be obsolete in a few years time.. not to mention, lithium production has one of the worse if not the worst environmental impact. Stop being silly and invest in REAL green energy, research "Searl generator"!

Nothing screams green energy like a diesel motor charging batteries.. not to mention each baseboard heater installed in new homes is on avg 1500W! With and average of 10 per new home!

Up 51 Down 20

Dave M on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:49 pm

But if the power goes out then everyone complains... maybe we need to look at the greater good this will serve. Country residential properties are at a premium and are selling for waaay more then originally purchased for. I am sure you will recover. Everyone wants more but don’t want it in their backyard.

Up 82 Down 21

Yukoner on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm

We want clean power, we don't want the power to go out but we don't want the solution in our backyard. NIMBYism is alive and well in the Yukon.

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