Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

HARNESSING THE POWER OF THE SUN – Shown left to right at Monday’s news conference about the renewable energy project are Ben Power, vice-president and cofounder of Solvest; Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall; and Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai.

Solar farm planned for north of Whitehorse

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.

By Chuck Tobin on July 14, 2020

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.

Comments (15)

Up 1 Down 0

Klaus G. on Jul 20, 2020 at 7:23 pm

Raise Marsh Lake water levels to the amount that you are licensed to and don't send out a shiny $500,000.00 worth of pamphlets asking for permission from the public for something that you're already licensed for. You said solar and wind were a waste of investment here and now your tying to a contract to buy? Please list what infrastructure was obtained with the last heinous rate increase?

Up 15 Down 7

Yukon wilde on Jul 18, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Every Yukon housing house has had alternate heating ripped out of it and is burning oil to heat it. Every house I’ve ever been in needs replacement seals, windows leak, gaps are visible to the outside, there are no Arctic entries, the heating costs and wastes are astronomical. Yet nothing is done.

If Yukon housing looked at alternative fuel heating (pellet stoves?) or even brought its housing stock up to a reasonable level of energy efficiency the diesel use would go down substantially.
But liberals don’t look at savings. They like to tax and spend.

Up 21 Down 11

Stop it! Before it’s too late... Stop it! on Jul 17, 2020 at 7:19 pm

This is monumentally farcical and has been demonstrated, repeatedly so, to be environmentally damaging. This is a Liberal vote con for the naive, feel good, self-professed greenies. Liberals destroy everything, people, the economy and the environment!

Up 21 Down 20

yukonlibby on Jul 16, 2020 at 11:54 am

I feel like a lot of you who commented didn't really read the article thoroughly. The government isn't paying for this, they're committing to buy the power afterwards, and YDC is providing a small grant up front. Solvest is investing the $2.1 mil less that grant. And there is no requirement for a YESAB review on a project on private property that doesn't involve subsurface rights.

And yes, see woodcutter's comment about water levels and storage for more hydro availability in the winter.

Up 29 Down 8

Jim on Jul 15, 2020 at 6:14 pm

Wonderful that the Yukon is starting to invest in renewables. But, it does raise some interesting questions. A few years ago Yukon Energy did a study as far as wind and solar were concerned and discovered that it was not financially feasible. Yet Solvest says it will pay for itself in 6 to 7 years. Also the rate per KWH seems to be more than what the public pay. Does this means get ready for more power bill increases? So far First Nations seem to be the benefactor of solar and wind projects as what constitutes a partnership is the Feds financing it. As long as it's above board and the taxpayers are not being fleeced, I say bravo. But if the taxpayers are paying for the project and paying for the power produced by it, that would be double dipping.

Up 17 Down 32

Joyce Chang on Jul 15, 2020 at 3:36 pm

This is a way to explore in Yukon. Green energy !!! I wanted to do it a long time ago.

Up 20 Down 37

woodcutter on Jul 15, 2020 at 12:39 pm

As always the same collection of right wing nuts complaining about progress. Talk about partial information being provided, or lack of knowledge about the systems, the potential and the contributions, and oh yes, we always get the nuclear option presented.

The energy generated during the summer, will allow the lakes to be maintained at a higher level during the summer, to be released during the high use periods, duh. Every bit helps, and I cant wait to get my system approved and into the grid. With the annual returns possible, I will be considerable less worried about funding my retirement.

p.s. I don't mind paying taxes, to make for a better environment, and who ever heard about putting solar panel next to a tree, from what I heard shadows don't help the collection of FREE electricity.

Up 24 Down 23

Matthew on Jul 15, 2020 at 5:50 am

Solar... LOL near useless tech! If you want REAL free and clean energy the Searl generator can produce so much it can put ALL oil and gas companies out of business. Something they don't want! Research Wardenclyffe tower as well! Stop being played...

Up 38 Down 10

Crunch on Jul 14, 2020 at 10:11 pm

There is bunch of partial truths here and some misleading figures. They only tell you the good part of the story.

Up 37 Down 14

yay! Time to roast the trees on Jul 14, 2020 at 7:55 pm

and not do an environmental impact assessment!

Simply put a solar panel beside a tree and watch what happens! But I take it you're going to clear cut a huge swath. Environmental impact assessment including use of materials to create the panels.

Up 39 Down 20

BnR on Jul 14, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Like many farms in the Yukon, this will be another one that sucks up public money and makes the owner rich while producing something we don’t need (green power in the summer).

Up 13 Down 23

Could someone say something? on Jul 14, 2020 at 4:06 pm

a friend posted on facebook awhile ago.

Google the scholarly articles on "solar heat island effect."
this may have contributed to the fires in Australia and decreased rainfall.

Up 49 Down 23

Yukon Dsl on Jul 14, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Get ready for increases to your electric bill. Look at what happened to Ontario Hydro rates when the province tried to go with renewable energy. https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/ontario-hydro-rates-rise-double-national-average-report-says/ Watch Michael Moore's "Planet Of The Humans" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbB4XcfKzg8
I am sure Solvest wants to get First Nations on board. The First Nations don't pay for solar panels and wind generators. The solar panels and wind generators are paid for by the federal government through grants to First Nations thanks to taxpayers. Also it is a little bit hypocritical that First Nations claim to be caretakers of the land and water and yet have no qualms about defacing the natural landscapes with monstrous wind generators and massive solar arrays.
Follow the money, who stands to benefit the most from solar arrays and wind generation. It sure won't be the average consumer who will be paying steadily increasing power bills.

Up 11 Down 20

Front Page on Jul 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm

My God, a story worth reading !

Up 52 Down 30

Bankrupt yukoner on Jul 14, 2020 at 2:21 pm

This is highway robbery of the citizenry. These installations end up getting scrapped in areas that get far more sun than here - wait to see how the maintenance costs start adding up and more diesel generators will be necessary to act as backup base load power for this idiotic decision.

-this will result in ever increasing power rates.
-doesn't meet the increased needs for base load power when it is needed most - middle of our long dark winters.
-will force the most vulnerable people to choose between food, medicine or heat and result in a higher number of suicides and untimely deaths due to the health issues caused by ever increasing stress from financial uncertainty as the economy has been systematically destroyed based on fraud and lies.
-the project and the entire company is an example of special interest groups that live off of government subsidies and thus taxpayer subsidies that are direct handouts and indirect subsidies like higher power rates to subsidize the operation of virtue signalling power generation that simply is not worth it for this type of mixed commercial, industrial and residential grid.
-hampers the growth of the economy as there is not enough capacity as it is nor will there be enough to support future new industry.
-inflation rate will start drastically increasing thanks to the reckless spending of governments like drunken sailors combined with soon to be increased taxes of all types and the introduction of a sales tax and healthcare fees.
this is insanity - together let's find a cure for liberalism - it is destroying this once free country with a free prosperous society & economy.

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