Whitehorse power dam

Yukon Energy wants to switch its backup generators at the Whitehorse power dam from diesel to liquefied natural gas. (CBC)

Yukon Energy is counting on approval of its controversial switch to natural gas generators.

The corporation wants to replace aging diesel generators in Whitehorse with ones that use Liquefied Natural Gas.

Yukon Energy has already bought the LNG generators required for the conversion.

The government acknowledged the purchase in the Legislature, after Liberal leader Sandy Silver questioned the expenditure.

"Mr. Speaker, as we saw in Watson lake last week, sometimes projects don't get approved. Why has the government made such a huge financial commitment to a project that's not yet approved and is there any penalties involved if the government has to cancel some of the commitments is has already made?”

Scott Kent

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale North, is Yukon's Minister of Mines and Resources. (Yukon Legislative Assembly)

The $36 million dollar project is still awaiting approvals from the Yukon Utilities Board and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.

But, Energy Minister Scott Kent says equipment orders have to be made early if the project is to be finished on time.

"The natural gas engines were ordered ahead of the YUB assessment and the YESAB's assessment so the the energy corporation could receive them within the construction period. They take a long time obviously to procure and to order that's why they were ordered ahead of time.”

Kent told the Legislature he will have to check whether any penalties apply if the orders are cancelled.

Yukon Energy says costs of the project, to date, are around $17 million.

That includes more than $8 million to purchase the generators.

If approved, construction of the LNG facility could begin within the month.