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.