Whitehorse Daily Star

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INCREASING DEPENDENCY – With low water in the Aishihik Lake storage reservoir, Yukon Energy will be relying more on the LNG plant for the generation of electricity this winter.

Yukon Energy’s fossil fuels burning up sharply

The amount of fossil fuels Yukon Energy is burning to generate power has more than quadrupled in the last three years, according to numbers provided by the Crown corporation.

By Chuck Tobin on November 1, 2018

The amount of fossil fuels Yukon Energy is burning to generate power has more than quadrupled in the last three years, according to numbers provided by the Crown corporation.

Yukon Energy president Andrew Hall said this morning the dependency on hydrocarbons will rise again this winter because of low water in the Aishihik Lake reservoir.

In 2016, while 98.4 per cent of power for the grid was produced by renewable hydro, 1.4 per cent came from generators powered by natural gas and diesel fuel – with a sprinkling of contribution from wind.

In 2017, dependency on fossil fuels jumped to 3.2 per cent, according to the numbers.

It’s expected that by the end of this year, 6.3 per cent of the electricity on the grid will have been produced by natural gas and diesel, with more than two-thirds of that coming from the LNG plant at the Whitehorse Rapids Dam.

This morning, for instance, 27 per cent of all the power on the grid was coming from a combination of diesel and natural gas.

Hall told the Star that low water last winter in the Mayo Lake reservoir that supplies the Mayo hydro facility required a higher degree of dependency on hydrocarbons to make up for the loss in hydro production.

As this winter begins, the water level in the larger Aishihik Lake reservoir that supplies the Aishihik hydro facility is a metre below normal, he explained.

Aishihik, Hall said, is usually the bread and butter for the supply of winter hydro in the Yukon, contributing 50 per cent.

“So when we saw the freshet coming in the spring and the lack of summer rain, it became clear that the Aishihik watershed just did not receive as much precipitation as normal,” he said.

“What that means is we are going to produce less energy out of Aishihik than we would normally.”

As a result, he said, they made a decision to begin burning natural gas and diesel in October to offset the low storage of water in Aishihik, and they will be burning it through the winter.

Having backup generation powered by hydrocarbons is not only there to help meet peak loads in the winter, but also to help meet demand in years of low water like this year, he explained.

As it did last year, Yukon Energy is renting four additional diesel generators capable of producing two megawatts each to provide for emergency backup generation if required, at a total cost of $1.5 million – not including fuel costs.

Under Yukon Energy’s 20-year-old resource plan finalized in 2016, there are a number of options to provide additional renewable and non-renewable generation, including increasing the storage of water in the Southern Lakes at a cost of $15.5 million.

The corporation is also looking at building a new diesel generation plant, or a combination of diesel and natural gas, at a cost of $62 million.

The territorial cabinet has also instructed the Yukon Development Corp. to investigate the feasibility of running a transmission line down the Stewart-Cassiar Highway to hook into B.C.’s grid. The cost is estimated at $1.7 billion.

Comments (22)

Up 1 Down 3

Josey Wales on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:23 pm

Save a tree, dig no coal, leave the oil in the ground......Ol school or new age
Oh yeah...the sky is falling.

Up 3 Down 0

zoom on Nov 7, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Every person that has brain knows carbon tax is just that, another tax. Only idiot would come to tax us and give us money back later, where is the logic, we will tax you and then we will give you money back, why do it at all? Are we not taxed enough already? Everything is expensive as it is especially up here. Not everyone is making big money or have big pensions, but liberals are not interested in that. Carbon tax only liberals will believe that.

Up 16 Down 2

Bandit on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:25 am

@ Denny
I don't live in a Condo solely dependent on electricity, I don't need to research Atcos Emergency plan and I won't be crammed into an emergency shelter because I have my own backup plan... It's called a Honda generator.

Up 9 Down 8

KT on Nov 5, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Actually the oil or natural gas generators are really only 40 to 42% efficient in turning the fuel on hand into actual electricity, the rest in wasted. Also 2 other factors play in, the trucking to get the fuel here and in regard to the natural gas - it was changed from gas form to liquid to store & transport which consumed a lot of energy, possibly 20% of the energy is used to change of state gas to liquid.

All heating electrical loads added to our grid in the last several years are definitely not green, there are in fact terrible as far as the environment goes. Electric heat should have been curtailed years ago. Now we pay for expansion of generating capacities and we foul the air. Very dumb & short sighted.

Up 12 Down 4

Hugh Mungus on Nov 5, 2018 at 4:27 pm

You're just plain wrong. Right now, late afternoon Monday we are using 61.65 MW. 53.24 of that is Hydro, 8.41 is thermal (LNG and diesel)


Up 14 Down 11

Skags on Nov 5, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Just because you heat your home with electricity doesn’t mean it’s carbon neutral. Hydro generates most of its power when we don’t need it...summer therefore you must rely on diesel and LNG to power all these homes September thru may/June. So when you drive by and see every chimney at the plant blowing smoke you will never be Carbon neutral.

Up 15 Down 1

Denny on Nov 4, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Last year I did my own first hand research with Atco and the city in terms of emergency measures. Mainly my concern was what happens when you live in a electric heated condo in the event of a power outage in winter at sub zero temps. Visions of piling into a CGC gym or school wasn't my idea of a back-up plan. Apparently they have a series of back-up mobile generators to plug into the local grid. However with a rogue government strategy, I'm still not comfortable with carbon taxes, increases in power rates and general incompetent fast plays by a local and federal government. My suggestion is you get your own back-up plan.

Up 7 Down 27

Iceface on Nov 3, 2018 at 11:07 am

As there are other viable alternatives available to invest and develop in our local economies such as geothermal, micro hydro, wind, solar, biomass to name a few however our competent energy corporation pushes to burn more fossil fuels. Not a great short or long term idea for our north where these alternatives can boost our local economy, but try to tell that to the bureau of fat cats.

Up 5 Down 30

Greg Boyce on Nov 3, 2018 at 5:53 am

I was considering the Yukon because Ontario is carbon intensive. But my decision is to leave North America and become a Australian citizen. I will denounce Canadian citizenship and join the Australian Green Party. Australians will discuss politics in a rational way, have a electrol system and for have to vote.

Up 31 Down 1

Resident on Nov 2, 2018 at 8:17 pm

New construction was encouraged to use electricity for heating after Faro shut down. Yukon Energy knew there wasn't enough power to run Whistle Bend before the first shovel of dirt was moved. With the cancellation of the new dam project, who knows where we're going to get more power.

Up 17 Down 20

At home in the Yukon on Nov 2, 2018 at 6:55 pm

Hmmm, if I heat with electricity in Yukon, about 95% of my energy is carbon neutral. If I heat with oil, all of my heat produces CO2. From a global warming perspective, heating with electricity is still WAY the better option. I would love to see 100% of Yukon electricity be carbon neutral, but in the meantime it remains the cleanest option.

Up 21 Down 3

Fred Norris on Nov 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

This is nothing. Wait until next year, when Victoria Gold connects to the grid....

Up 7 Down 4

common sense on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:26 pm

Now you can justify the increased rate over three years planned, or now even more

Up 33 Down 3

Joseum Wales on Nov 2, 2018 at 1:01 pm

They were considering briefcase Toshiba nuclear for the small community of Galena Alaska. Think it was 10 megs. It may be the solution here since there is ongoing demand increased but no additional production.

Up 37 Down 4

Betty Irwin on Nov 2, 2018 at 10:21 am

All new construction comes with electric heating. There does seem to be a lack of long-range forecasting here. This should have been a foreseeable consequence. The population continues to increase and there are lots of new commercial buildings and homes going up. Talk about new subdivisions in the next five years or so. The demand for electricity is only to continue to increase. But the concept of district heating or boreal thermal heating is too expensive to contemplate?

Up 34 Down 4

Politico on Nov 2, 2018 at 8:47 am

Sounds like we're being set up for a rate increase.

Up 28 Down 5

Jim Cleaver on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Most of the new condo developments are all electric heat now. Projects that have upgraded to solar are all electric as well because it makes sense. But in the dark cold months such as January and February I’m sure they also add an extra load to our already fragile grid. Where do we go from here? As Whitehorse grows so does our need for electricity. Did Atco not recently do a survey on alternate methods of power production and find solar and wind not financially viable? Maybe the best idea is to tie into the B.C. grid. With the site C project proceeding they will have more power than they need.

Up 33 Down 5

jean on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:20 pm

Less LNG and diesel could be used if the water level in the southern lakes reservoir could be held at September levels into the winter months. The infrastructure to do this is already in place.
The only thing preventing this from going ahead right now is very influential NIMBYs who built too close to the lake and feel their properties would be adversely affected. We know who they are don't we Doug?
That's the main reason the Southern Lakes Reservoir project isn't going ahead right now.

The Southern Lakes energy storage should be maintained for the maximum benefit of ALL Yukoners on the grid. It has a large energy storage potential if managed correctly.

If people's properties are not already protected from September water levels then they've made a mistake or 'bent' the building code. If lake system residents need assistance in protecting their property for existing September maximum levels than low interest government loans should be made available.

Up 21 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Nov 1, 2018 at 6:45 pm

I have yet to research the claim that a 20 megawatt diesel plant will be installed at the Takhini substation out on the Mayo Rd in 2021. Apparently the details are on the YEC website, but I have yet to go look.

20 Meg? As noted below with electric being the more favored energy supply for home heating, demand for juice will increase. I suspect 20 meg added to the system would be gobbled up pretty quick before another upgrade is required in perhaps another five years. A generating plant of that scope will require a substantial amount of fuel on hand and it will be loud too. It should be an interesting approval process to follow.

Up 22 Down 2

... wait more houses come online on Nov 1, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Condo's, apartments, old folks homes, high schools..
and everything in between and somehow more power is being used?
The carbon tax will fix that.

Up 23 Down 8

Only the water levels you say.. on Nov 1, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Next time I have to replace an oil tank to get the magic wand seal of approval for the latest changes dreamed up by the bureaucrats, I'll be using the money toward an electric heat system. The government also doesn't allow wood heat in some areas, and insurance companies won't insure a house with a wood stove as the main heat source.

With Trudeau / Silver's carbon tax, there's another incentive to use electricity. But guess what? "No alternative" really exists. And unlike the placer miners, we are not getting an exemption. Sandy went to bat for them. Not sure why.

Wood heat probably does make the most sense, not that I like the idea of chopping down forests either.

Underground houses, straw bale, hemp-crete… there might be some good energy reduction ideas out there that cost less than another dam. Not sure our code would allow that though.

Less people would also help matters of course, but we are very, very far off even considering that reality. Growth is the economic model, so growth it will be until we kill the planet. $$

Up 54 Down 4

Reddy Kilowatt on Nov 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Could it have something to do with the number of new homes heating with electric base board?

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