Whitehorse Daily Star

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PROPOSED SITE – Above in the outlined area is one of three proposed sites for Yukon Energy’s new $27-million battery storage facility. To the right is the substation off the North Klondike Highway and to the clearing to the left is the property owned by Vanessa Just’s family.

Residents’ anxieties have been heard: Yukon Energy

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall says the Crown corporation still has work to do before selecting one of the three site options for a new $27-million battery storage unit for the Yukon’s grid.

By Chuck Tobin on September 18, 2020

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall says the Crown corporation still has work to do before selecting one of the three site options for a new $27-million battery storage unit for the Yukon’s grid.

He said they heard the concerns from the residents closest to the North Klondike Highway site at Tuesday night’s meeting, particularly from the family who would live next door to the battery storage facility. (See separate story, this page, for the concerns being raised.)

Hall acknowledges some area residents didn’t receive direct notification of the meeting, though Yukon Energy did publicize it on social media and through regular newspaper ads and such.

He said the 13 area residents who did attend the gathering were mostly those who would be closest to the facility.

There is still much to consider before selecting either of the three sites, he said.

Yukon Energy hosted two virtual meetings last week and three public sessions this week, including the meeting at the Hootalinqua fire hall for residents of the North Klondike Highway.

Thursday night’s meeting at the Gold Rush Inn saw 17 members of the public participate, the most at any of the gatherings.

The Crown corporation is considering the site on the North Klondike Highway next to its substation. It’s looking at a site across from the LNG plant, near the area the city uses as a snow dump.

It’s also considering a location up the hill from the snow dump, close to the intersection of Robert Service Way and the Alaska Highway.

The Klondike Highway site is the only one of the three with residential properties in close proximity.

All three sites are on settlement land owned by either the Kwanlin Dün First Nation or the Ta’an Kwach’an Council, and would have to be leased from the First Nations.

Hall said Yukon Energy has a corporate policy to make available economic development and investment opportunities to First Nations whenever possible.

Among the matters to still be worked out are the lease arrangements, he said.

The grid-size battery storage unit has been identified by Yukon Energy as a means of increasing the stability of the grid while using less diesel generation.

It’s expected the facility would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tonnes between 2023 and 2043.

Hall explained the 20-megawatt system could be used with a flip of a switch in cases of power outages. It could be used in the winter to help meet peak demand rather than turning on the diesels, he explained.

He said the battery – or series of batteries – would be charged when demand is low and there is excess electricity, such as in the middle of the night.

The design specification of 20 megawatts is based on the ability to replace the power being generated by the largest hydro unit at the Whitehorse Rapids Dam, should it go down, Hall explained.

The battery, he explained, could supply 20 megawatts of generation for two hours, or five megawatts for eight hours.

Construction costs in 2020 dollars run between $26.6 million and $27.1 million, depending on the site.

The federal government is contributing $16.5 million and Yukon Energy will pick up the rest.

The annual operation and maintenance cost runs between $210,00 and $214,000. The two sites off Robert Service Way also require an annual property tax payment to the city of approximately $213,000.

Hall said they are in discussions with the city to see if there is any way to reduce the level of property taxes, given the battery storage facility is a green energy project and the city has declared a climate emergency.

Not having to pay municipal property taxes at the North Klondike Highway site is a factor in weighing the best site option, but it’s only one factor, said the Yukon Energy president.

Hall said the intent is to begin site preparation next year, once the project proposal has cleared a review by the Yukon Utilities Board and a review by the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The goal is to have the system operational in 2022, he said.

The battery storage facility is identified in Yukon Energy’s 10-year resource to help meet the growing energy demand in the territory.

Comments (18)

Up 1 Down 0

Roger on Sep 25, 2020 at 4:05 am

And another thing, stop wasting the public's money sending out little pamphlets and workbooks soliciting ideas and use some of the ones you have been collecting for umpteen dozen years. There is a board that is supposed to make decisions is there not, well then have them make decisions. I think this is the Yukon Development Corp. board and what do they feel their role is, negotiated inertia? Develop hydro over going nuke like O'reagan thinks is inevitable. No more pamphlets please we need action.

Up 5 Down 15

Woodcutter on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:05 pm

Typical FN bashing going on by the usual cast of characters. I think the property tax issue is a red hearing thrown into the discussion. First Nations pay property taxes and when this facility is built, the taxes will increase, just ask us folks that have land outside of a municipality what happens when improvements are made to said property. The location is critical for this gadget and costs to run the appropriate transmission lines would be a major economic factor. Perhaps it's a good idea to buy out the residents and if they don't want to sell, expropriate, it was all done to the FN, why not the settlers?

Up 5 Down 4

Juniper Jackson on Sep 22, 2020 at 4:49 am

So, they heard our concerns? Lucky ol' us.. going to do something? Not so much.

Up 23 Down 3

Jake the Bosun on Sep 20, 2020 at 5:59 pm

What is really important here is actually the debate. The standard Yukon process is;

NIMBY is not just a factor, it's a religion here!
All the zealots fight progress waiting for someone, anyone, to come up with a miracle solution. It never happens and ain't gonna happen. No hydro electric for us (too big), no nuclear (too scary), no coal (too offensive), and so on and so on.
So, instead we get big corporations playing a self-serving games using tax-money to build fancy toys they would otherwise never have a chance to play with.
We deserve this B _ _ S _ _ _ !

Up 13 Down 12

EJ on Sep 20, 2020 at 12:36 pm

That's right Groucho. Brad is the clear NIMBY candidate here. He is pro-development in all areas except those ones he is responsible for. Conservatives always want things built and developed - just not in areas close to where they or their cronies live. Better that noisy stuff happen where the poor people live, they are less likely to organize and kick up a stink like the well connected people with money.

Up 14 Down 10

Wilf Carter on Sep 19, 2020 at 6:32 pm

So we can expect to see a 10 to 12% rise in our energy rates at least. Checking with people who work in the energy. These batteries are not safe and are worse for the environment in the long run because of the chemicals in them. Why did the liberals buy electric driven buses for Whitehorse that would be a major carbon reduction saver? Also Yukon Government has proposed heat pumps for heating our houses. How much energy does it take to run them? Do they work at below 0 which 7 months of the year in the Yukon?
Folk Yukon government is trying to buy First Nation support and are putting out facts on climate which is falsely made up by Trudeau government! There is piece in this under 'letters' on climate change gives a very good explanation for the reason our climate changes and it has nothing to human actions at all. It is must read. Science people in the know in government think we are wasting tax payers money. Battery storage is 5 years away from being developed that is environmental safe. More hydro is the only way to go, total green and safe.

Up 13 Down 4

Groucho d "north on Sep 19, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Brad Cathers the incumbent MLA for the riding has expressed his opinion on the placement of this battery project in the sub-station area of the Mayo Rd. He doesn't support it.
Recognizing that an election is still a way's off and nominee candidates have not yet been named for this riding, perhaps the party leaders could clearly state if they are in favour with this option or not - seeing as it will be around long after the next election has been decided. Clear answers please Mr. Silver and Ms. White.

Up 25 Down 8

Crunch on Sep 19, 2020 at 10:10 am

This battery project will be the biggest boondoggle for our energy needs since the construction of the Aishihik dam which was over 45 years ago. It has been one disaster after the other and now we are in this mess of pandering to green with Federal money which we don't have. Last winter came close to turning this whole shabang on its ear and we have potential for much worse. Dabble in the politics, election posturing and there you have it folks a #%@& show like no other. Put the stamp on it " Made in Yukon".

Up 31 Down 3

Jim on Sep 19, 2020 at 9:55 am

Agree with TMYK, there has to be land available that is not First Nations. Have we not learned anything from the Aishihik power facility? Even though it supplies over 25% of our power, Champagne Aishihik wants it abandoned. What happens when the chosen First Nations decides they don’t want it there anymore. We are all worried about city taxes, but rest assured they will be paying a lot more to just use this land.

Up 31 Down 5

melba on Sep 19, 2020 at 9:25 am

Why not buy the property from the landowners (assuming they would want to sell), and then there is no lease arrangement to worry about at any of the sites. I do not want my electric bills to be padded in order to fulfill ATCO's corporate goal to partner with First Nations. If you need their land, fine, but I expect decisions to be made with the customers in mind first and foremost, not politics with First Nations or anyone else.

Up 16 Down 5

NickyB on Sep 18, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Would they place a fuel tank farm in that location? Not likely. However as usual, these greentard scams are ideologically blinded to the hazards involved.

When a 2-MW battery array in Surprise, Ariz. caught fire and subsequently exploded, it highlighted a troubling reality for the nascent energy storage industry: the sector's momentum, marked by record numbers of deployments, falling prices and expanding state mandates and incentives, could be derailed by a series of well-publicized and, in some cases, little-known incidents involving runaway fires.

As projects proliferate, driven by demand for solutions to integrate intermittent renewables into grid operations and to offset the need for fossil fuels, the industry is being forced to acknowledge that fires, most of them linked to lithium-ion batteries, are occurring with troubling frequency. Incidents over the past year include the blaze in Arizona along with more than 20 energy storage systems that have reportedly caught fire in South Korea, putting the world's hottest energy storage market on ice amid a safety probe. Fires linked to lithium-ion batteries also have hit Europe and Australia.


Up 8 Down 14

Jc on Sep 18, 2020 at 6:11 pm

TMYK, It's called "Reconciliation".

Up 18 Down 4

Gringo on Sep 18, 2020 at 6:04 pm

So 27 million budgeted right now so that will be in the 35-40 million range when all bills come in THEN another 4.2 budgeted over 20 for OandM so that will be 10 million THEN property taxes and we haven’t even discussed problems, break downs battery replacements etc. In a word Boondoggle!

Up 14 Down 11

Quel Question on Sep 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Richard - How much for the maintenance and upkeep?

TMYK - How much will the First Nation get? How much more will our power cost as a result?

Matthew - What is the environmental cost to make these batteries in the first place? Rare earth metals?

NIMBY - Stop! Just stop! NIMBYism has a long history... How about colonization...

Up 12 Down 23

NIMBY Who on Sep 18, 2020 at 4:39 pm

Andrew, as you consider the site selection, YES please, do consider the city tax issue and select one that limits that cost so we/the rate payers do not have additional costs. As for the multi acre lot next to the proposed site, it's an Agriculture Lot, not a spa.

Putting this development at the end of a runway next to the spot where an airplane went down and blew up last summer makes no sense.

Up 53 Down 9

TMYK on Sep 18, 2020 at 4:27 pm

Funny how all 3 sites are on FN land. The only question is who gets the payday. There has to be suitable crown land that wouldn't require a pay off.

Up 21 Down 12

Matthew on Sep 18, 2020 at 4:09 pm

Battery fire's are horrible! Can take only 1 cell to catch, it slowly burns and explodes, then another cell, it can take WEEKS for them to be safely put out not knowing when and if another cell will explode. And let's be honest here.. you can safely add another 20% on top of their proposed price..

Up 24 Down 7

Richard Bishop on Sep 18, 2020 at 3:43 pm

So the battery storage facility costs approx 27 million, does this include cost of batteries? If not how much do batteries cost, and how many are involved?
How much has been spent and will be spent on rental generators to provide power to store in these batteries, as well as power for the Grid.

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