Today's question: Why is Yukon Energy bothering to "consult" on LNG, since it appears you've already made up your mind.
Thanks for your question. In fact Yukon Energy has been seeking Yukoners' opinions on liquefied natural gas and other energy options since 2011, when we held a three-day energy charrette. Yukoners from all walks of life came together with energy experts to talk about all possible options for finding new sources of electricity. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) was one of the options discussed and we were asked to do more research into whether it might be a good fit for the territory. Together, the charrette participants agreed on four principles Yukon Energy should look at when assessing future energy options. They are that the source must be affordable, reliable and flexible to fit the changing circumstances in Yukon, and environmentally responsible.
We followed up that charrette with a workshop specifically looking at LNG, again inviting Yukoners to come hear what we had learned to date and asking for your opinions.
We held public meetings in several Yukon communities where we shared our 20-year resource plan and asked what you thought. LNG was one of the options identified in that plan.
Over the last two years we have, as you asked us to, done a lot of research into this as a source of energy (at the same time we've been working on finding new renewable sources, but that's a topic for another blog entry). What we learned is that LNG is a good option to use as a backup to replace some of our diesel generators that need to be retired anyway. LNG is more affordable to Yukoners, it's more reliable than any renewable source we have available to us at this time, it's flexible, and it is cleaner than diesel. It meets most if not all of the four criteria that Yukoners asked us to follow.
There comes a time when decisions must be made, and we have decided that we want to move forward with replacing our two oldest Whitehorse diesel generators with natural gas units. As I've explained in a previous post, we are not talking about using LNG very much. Right now hydro provides 99 percent of the electricity we produce. But we do need a backup system when our renewable power is in short supply for various reasons.
The purpose of our meetings this month is to explain to Yukoners why we have come to this decision, and to record your comments and concerns. Notes from all the stakeholder, government, and public meetings will be included in a project proposal we will be submitting to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board later this summer. YESAB will not only read what you've told us about LNG, but you will have opportunities during the board's review to submit comments.
We must also file our plans with our regulator, the Yukon Utilities Board. Again, you will have an opportunity to present your opinions about LNG to this board.
We know that LNG is a contentious issue. We know there are Yukoners who disagree with our decision. But to suggest that we have not consulted with Yukoners is, I feel, unfair. The bottom line is that we have made what we believe is a responsible choice.
If you are in the Whitehorse area, I invite you to come to the public meeting set for this Monday (July 8th) from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Mount Mac Recreation Centre. Several of the experts who gathered the research for us will be there, so you can talk to them directly about their approaches, methodologies, and findings. There will be presentations and question and answer sessions. I hope to see you there.
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