Yukon Energy and Solvest Inc. have signed a 25-year power purchase agreement to provide renewable energy from a solar farm the company is planning to build.
Ben Power, vice-president and cofounder of Solvest, said at a news conference Monday morning the array of 4,000 solar panels will be
installed over 6.5 acres on piece of property along the Mayo Road.
With a generating capacity of one megawatt, it is the first large-scale solar project in Whitehorse and the second such agreement under the
Yukon government’s Independent Power Production policy.
It’s expected to generate enough electricity to power 153 homes for a year.
Construction of the $2.1-million facility is scheduled to begin next month with completion expected in November.
Power said Solvest will recover its investment in six to seven years.
Under the policy’s standing offer program, the company will be paid 15.8 cents per kilowatt hour, with a automatic annual increase tied to the rate of inflation.
The Yukon Development Corp. is contributing $200,000 toward the project from the fund it has established to assist potential independent
power producers with their proposals.
Solvest began planning for the project as soon as the government released its policy in January 2019 regarding the purchase of renewable
energy from independent power producers, Power explained.
“The North Klondike Highway IPP project will demonstrate the viability of solar in Canada’s North as an economic alternative to fossil fuel generation,” Power said.
“We hope that this project paves the way for several more solar IPP’s in the territory in partnership with First Nations, further building the local
renewable energy industry.”
The Vuntut Gwitchin government of Old Crow was the first to sign a power purchase agreement under the policy when it entered into an
agreement with ATCO Electric Yukon in 2018.
Solvest installed an array of solar panels for the Gwitchin with a generating capacity of 940 kilowatts. It is scheduled to become operational soon.
“Ben, let me be the first to congratulate you and Solvest for bringing Yukon’s latest renewable electricity project to fruition,” Andrew Hall, the president of Yukon Energy, told the modest crowd gathered outside Solvest’s headquarters for Monday’s announcement.
“Locally-owned, community-based renewable projects like Solvest’s new solar array on the North Klondike Highway have a very important
role in helping build Yukon’s sustainable electricity future.”
Hall said the North Klondike Highway project will help the Crown corporation achieve its goal of having 97 per cent of the energy it produces generated by renewable energy over the next 10 years, most of it coming from hydro generation.
“In the past few years, Solvest has established themselves as a major player in the clean tech and energy sector, especially in the North,”
Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai told the gathering.
“They are helping to diversify our economy and pave the way towards a clean, green energy future – and it has really been great to see.”
Pillai noted that Solvest has installed 340 solar arrays in the Yukon, with a total generating capacity of 5.3 megawatts.
It’s also installed 2.7 megawatts of capacity outside the Yukon, the minister pointed out, adding Solvest has installed solar arrays in the
Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Haida Gwaii and as far away as Manitoba.
The minister said the 940 kilowatts of capacity installed in Old Crow is expected to displace 189,000 litres of diesel fuel annually used to
power the communities diesel generators.
It will also reduce the amount of airplane fuel needed to fly the diesel into Old Crow, he said.
Currently, Pillai said, there are 312 micro-generators – homes, businesses – selling electricity back to the grid.
Together they generate almost one per cent of the annual demand, he said.
“Micro-generation participants include eight Yukon First Nations and First Nation development corporations, which have now installed more
than 25 solar energy generating systems on their institutional and commercial buildings since 2014,” the minister said.
“The Micro-generation Program is growing rapidly and is establishing Yukon as a national leader in installed capacity per capita.”
The Solvest vice-president said the North Klondike Highway project will demonstrate the viability of solar in Canada’s North as an alternative to fossil fuel generation.
The project presents an opportunity to build the largest solar project in northern Canada and B.C. which will be entirely designed,
engineered, constructed, owned, and operated by Yukoners, Power said.