Yukon Energy has historically, on average, met over 90% of the Yukon's electricity needs each year with clean, renewable power because of our large supply of hydroelectricity. However, this supply of hydroelectricity is less available in the winter when Yukoners need electricity the most.
Population growth along with increased use of electricity as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels for heating and transportation is driving up the demand for power in the Yukon. Winter peak demand for electricity has increased by 23% in the last five years and is expected to grow by an additional 36% by 2030. The way Yukoners are using electricity is also changing, as more Yukoners generate their own electricity through Yukon government’s Micro-Generation Program and Independent Power Production Policy.
The Yukon government’s climate change strategy, Our Clean Future, sets a target for an average of 93% of electricity generated on the Yukon’s main grid to be renewable by 2030. Achieving this, while also ensuring an adequate supply of safe, reliable, sustainable, and affordable electricity now and in the future, requires a coordinated and clear focus on:
Projects like our grid-scale battery in Whitehorse, hydro uprates and improvements, the launch of our demand side management program, Peak Smart Home, and the replacement of end-of-life thermal generation are helping, but we know that additional resources are still needed in the short- and long-term. For now, we continue to rent diesel generators each winter to meet peak demands for power during emergencies until new projects can be completed.
Great opportunities exist for Yukon Energy to partner with First Nation governments and development corporations, and other levels of government to build the sustainable energy future Yukoners need. First Nation involvement in the energy sector provides opportunities to advance each government’s economic development vision while ensuring projects are built respecting the principles of environmental stewardship. Federal funding of projects is also key to keeping projects affordable for customers and minimizing risk.
Building new generation resources takes time to plan, design, and build. We recognize that some generation resources we need to fill the winter gap can be built more quickly than others. This is why we are taking a two-step approach to our next phase of energy planning in the Yukon.
This plan determines Yukon’s electricity needs in the next 10 years and proposes how we will meet winter capacity and energy needs considering renewable energy targets. The plan considers the resources we need to meet winter peak and can be built in a short timeframe. Overall, our goal is to reduce our reliance on rental diesel generators in the wintertime. This process will also consider the status of projects in the 10-Year Renewable Electricity Plan we released in 2020. These projects include:
Atlin Hydro Expansion Project: Yukon Energy has signed an Electricity Purchase Agreement with Tlingit Homeland Energy LP, the project proponent, for the purchase of dependable winter energy and capacity. Right now, the project needs permits and government grant funding to proceed.
Moon Lake Pumped Storage Project: Seasonal storage is an important part of the electricity system as we have a greater supply of energy in the summer than demand, and the opposite in winter. Moon Lake is one example of a pumped storage project that would help solve this challenge. First Nations in the project area are important partners to making projects like this successful. We have done technical studies and next steps would take place when First Nations in the project area are ready to have discussions about it.
Expansion of the transmission network in the Southern Lakes region: This project is not moving ahead at this time as its main purpose was to connect the Moon Lake Pumped Storage Project to the grid.
Southern Lakes and Mayo Enhanced Storage Projects: These projects currently do not have the support of First Nation governments in the project areas so will not be proceeding.
An Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is a tool to establish and articulate our long-term strategic vision and manage uncertainty in a changing environment. It will provide a framework for us to deliver reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity to Yukoners for the next twenty years. The project will address broad questions of how much, where, when, and what new electricity supply resources should be advanced to meet customer electricity needs. The plan is robust: since we do not know what the future will look like, we will consider multiple scenarios to describe potential futures and see which resource options are recommended. It will also consider how an interconnection to BC may fit into the picture.
As both these planning processes unfold, we will provide updates and opportunities for you to be involved.