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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is asking for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources to provide an update on the Atlin Hydro Project after the passing of the January 2023 deadline set by Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership (THELP). In a November 8 interview with CBC Yukon, a consultant with THELP said if more funding was not secured by January, it would put the project in jeopardy.
Questions during the fall revealed the project had ballooned in cost from $120.7 million in 2019 to $230 million in the spring of 2022, and then to about $310 million as of November 2022. During the fall sitting, the Minister said the Atlin project was now facing a $60 million shortfall and all funding partners were re-evaluating how much to put in to close the funding gap. The minister needs to provide updated cost estimates and timelines.
“It is now February, and there has been no announcement regarding the funding shortfall for the Atlin project,” said Energy, Mines and Resources Critic Scott Kent. “Amidst the growing concerns surrounding the project, such as increased construction costs, Yukon Utility Board assessment of increased rates and project funding shortfalls, Yukoners have expressed concern over the viability of the project.”
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources said during the fall that the project was a good one for the government to invest in. New media reports suggest the project lacked proper oversight, as the former THELP president and CEO has been named in court filings alleging misappropriation of funds. The Minister now needs to confirm how much of Yukoners and ratepayers’ money has been spent to date, what funds may be included in the alleged amount, what financial controls are in place, and if he still holds the same optimism about the project.
“Yukoners are justifiably concerned about the recent revelations involving the former head of THELP,” added Kent. “Yukoners are looking for guarantees that appropriate financial controls on the millions in promised funding are in place and that previously transferred funding can be recovered if the project fails to move ahead.”
In a letter to the editor dated January 20, 2023, Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon outlined the need for viable alternatives amidst the growing concerns around the territorial Liberals energy plan. Dixon highlighted the necessity of revisiting the B.C. grid connection as a solution to our energy needs.