North

Whitehorse's wind turbines are pretty much blown

Yukon Energy says its two turbines on Haeckel Hill are at the end of their life and will soon be decommissioned and sold.

Yukon Energy says its 2 turbines on Haeckel Hill have reached the end of their life

One of Yukon Energy's two wind turbines on Haeckel Hill in Whitehorse. The turbines have reached 'pretty much their end of life,' according to Yukon Energy, and will soon come down. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A couple of Whitehorse landmarks will soon be gone, according to Yukon Energy.

The two wind turbines, overlooking the city from atop Haeckel Hill, will be decommissioned and the company is hoping to sell them off.

"Turbines of this generation typically only last about 20 years. So they've reached pretty much their end of life," said Andrew Hall, CEO of Yukon Energy.

The first turbine was installed in 1993, and the second, larger one went up in 2000. Hall says the larger one had a mechanical problem last year, and it was never fixed.

"When we looked at the business case to repair it, based on the lifetime of the rest of the turbine, you know, the business case just wasn't there," Hall said.

'The business case just wasn't there,' to fix one of the aging turbines, Hall said. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"At this time, the plans are to decommission both of the units over time, starting with the smaller one."

He says the smaller unit will likely come down later this summer, with the tower possibly going to another organization to use for rescue training. The larger unit may also have a buyer, Hall says, but "they would have to do, obviously, an extensive refurbishment on the unit."

Relatively small contribution

Hall says the turbines were "pretty successful," though they never supplied more than a small fraction of Yukon's power — about one megawatt. That's about one per cent of Yukon's typical power usage in winter, according to Hall.

"Obviously a very visible contribution, but on an absolute basis, very small," he said.

The turbines typically supplied about 1 per cent of Yukon's electricity. 'A very visible contribution, but on an absolute basis, very small,' said Hall. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

There are no immediate plans to replace the turbines, but Hall expects Yukon Energy's proposed Standing Offer Program — which would streamline the process for small, independent power producers to sell electricity to the grid — could change that.

"I think within a couple of years, assuming that project goes ahead, folks will see probably two or three turbines up on Haeckel Hill again."

At least one company is already hoping to install new, larger turbines on Haeckel Hill. Northern Energy Capital, in partnership with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, has proposed building three or four new turbines at a cost of $17 million. 

Yukon Energy is also monitoring wind power potential on nearby Mount Sumanik.

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