The Yukon government has directed the Yukon Development Corporation to plan addition hydro capacity to meet anticipated growth in demand.
Yukon territory is in an enviable position in that almost all its electrical energy is produced through hydro power, all connected through an isolated grid, called the WAF grid (Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro). The only northern jurisdiction that comes close to producing so much hydro is Greenland, at about 75%. Still the Yukon grid is nearly max-ed out. New energy demand essentially has to be met through non-renewable sources.
The territorial energy corporation, Yukon Energy, is planning to install an LNG facility to replace its aging diesel back-up units in Whitehorse in 2014.
Yukon’s hydro power has unique characteristics:
YEC says its diesel generation costs are about $0.35 per kw, compared to much less for its hydro facilities. New housing developments favour electric heat over alternatives by 4:1.
In 2006 YEC identified 19 hydro projects that could be considered for future development, from very small to very large.
There are three main potential show-stoppers with regard to hydro projects: a) First Nation objections; b) environmentalist concerns; c) affordability issues. It will be interesting to see what options are put forward for further consideration.