A local economist, Keith Halliday, delivers a sobering assessment of the energy options facing Yukoners.
Yukon until now has relied on its ageing twin hydro dams for the majority of its electrical energy. The problem is that demand growth is very quickly reaching capacity of the isolated grid. Yukon consumers pay about one half the rate of Yellowknife residents. Still there has been little push or planning for new large-scale hydro capacity. The isolated grid is nearing maximum production. If the territory opts for a piecemeal think-small approach its rates will inevitably rise to near those of Yellowknife.
The alternative, posits Mr.Halliday, is to build a big hydro project, like the Norwegians have done. Take a chance and keep long term rates lower. Big hydro is also the greener option, and provides the higher number of local economic development impacts in the way of incomes and jobs.
A TED lecture by Keith Halliday is shown as source a).
Yukon Energy has the capacity to generate 133 megawatts of power. Ninety two megawatts of that are provided by its hydro facilities (40 megawatts at Whitehorse, 37 megawatts at Aishihik Lake and 15 megawatts at Mayo) and 39 megawatts by diesel generators.
Keith Halliday makes a strong case for less complacency and bold action on the part of Yukoners, to choose a greener and higher value added future.
Interestingly, the Alaskans are already preparing to build a large hydro dam, like the Norwegians would suggest. Susitna-Watana Hydro is a large hydro project that would provide long-term stable power for generations of Alaskans. The project will, once it comes online in 2024, will have an installed capacity of 600 megawatts (MW).