When it comes to electricity, things can start to get technical pretty quickly. Here is a summary of some of the most commonly used terms and what they mean.
Energy: the amount of electricity used over a period of time. It is usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) for residential usage or gigawatt-hours (GWh) for regional/territorial usage. The average Yukon home uses 12,000 kilowatt hours or more in one year; Yukon-wide that number is more than 400 gigawatt-hours per year.
Capacity: the amount of electricity that is available at any given time. It is measured in watts, kilowatts (one thousand watts), megawatts (one million watts), or gigawatts (one billion watts).
Dispatchable generation: sources of electricity that are available on demand. Here in Yukon, thermal power (diesel or liquefied natural gas – LNG) can be dispatched at the request of power grid operators – that is, they can be turned on, off or adjust their power output relatively quickly.
Intermittent energy: any source of energy that is not continuously available due to some factor outside of our direct control (e.g. the wind not blowing or the sun not shining). Yukon Energy would love to use renewable energy for backup power. But the wind doesn’t blow all the time nor does the sun shine all the time. LNG and diesel are currently the only reliable backup power sources available to us.
Pumped storage: a process where water flows from an upper reservoir, is used for hydro generation, and is stored in a lower reservoir until it is needed again for power production. It is then pumped back to the upper reservoir and the process begins again.
Demand Side Management (DSM): using incentives, rate structures and/or codes and standards to encourage customers to reduce the amount of electricity they use. The concept is that if consumers use less electricity, the utilities won’t have to build as much new generation.
Independent Power Production (IPP): a method by which an energy producer can generate electricity for sale to utilities. The Yukon government is working with Yukon Energy and ATCO Electric Yukon to implement an Independent Power Production policy.
Secondary sales: at certain times of the year, Yukon Energy has the ability to produce more electricity than we need for our customers. To take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of this surplus power, the Corporation developed a Secondary Sales Program. It gives eligible Yukon businesses the option of using hydro power to heat their facilities instead of diesel fuel or propane, both of which are more expensive and produce GHG emissions.
Micro-generators: electricity consumers who own small, renewable energy generators such as wind or solar. If they generate more than they need for their own use, they can feed the excess back into the Yukon grid and receive a credit.