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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is again raising concerns about the territorial Liberal energy strategy that relies heavily on rented diesel generators for peaking electrical generation.
In November 2022, officials from Yukon Energy, when asked by the Yukon Party, confirmed that the diesel rentals have issues with reliability. The Yukon Utilities Board has also been critical of the Liberal decision to rely so heavily on rented diesel generators, and noted concerns about reliability.
On Monday night, Yukoners felt the impact of the vulnerable electricity grid as a sweeping blackout left many Yukoners without power during a cold snap that saw temperatures around minus-40 degrees Celsius.
“I’ve heard from constituents that had to pack up young children to join friends or families that had heat, because they were worried about the temperature dropping in their homes,” said Yvonne Clarke MLA for Porter Creek Centre. “What is also very concerning is the lack of communication from the Yukon Government. While ATCO Electric Yukon was providing ongoing updates on social media and responding to Yukoners direct concerns, Yukon Government has been silent on the matter. There was never any communication about where Yukoners who had to leave their homes should go, or whether centralized warming centres were being planned.”
The outage affected thousands of homes, and in some parts of Whistle Bend, which is known for its reliance on electric heat, homes were without power for more than four hours. While Yukoners are extremely thankful for the response of ATCO crews that braved the extreme cold to restore power, many are wondering why this happened and what is being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Rented diesel generators are used to help address the capacity shortfall during peak electrical usage. According to Yukon Energy, Monday set a new system generation peak of 117.1 Megawatts.
“The flawed energy policies of the territorial Liberals has left the Yukon with a dangerously vulnerable electrical grid, and the recent blackout has given Yukoners a sense of what that means for them,” said Scott Kent Official Opposition Critic for Energy Mines and Resources. “The Liberals have stubbornly refused to make the necessary investments in reliable power supply. Instead, they have banked Yukon’s energy future on uncertain projects like the Moon Lake hydro project which is likely at least a decade away.”
Keeping the power on is not only a necessity, but is a practical matter of public safety. When there is life-threatening cold, Yukoners need a reliable, sustainable mix of renewable and thermal power generation, a reality the Liberals are willfully ignoring due to ideology.