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Yukon cold snap breaks energy-use record

A recent cold spell across Yukon has put record demands on Yukon Energy Corp.'s Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro hydroelectric grid, forcing the utility to turn on its backup diesel generators as a result.

A recent cold spell across Yukon has put record demands on Yukon Energy Corp.'s Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro hydroelectric grid, forcing the utility to turn on its backup diesel generators as a result.

Yukon Energy officials say electricity demands during this past week's cold snap broke a 15-year energy consumption record.

"This is the first time since 1996 that we've reached the kind of peaks that we've been seeing," spokesperson Janet Patterson told CBC News on Friday.

The 1996 record was set at a time when the Faro mine was in full production and temperatures were in the –50 C range, Patterson said.

Patterson said some diesel consumption is factored into Yukon Energy's winter expenses, but added that the utility does not expect to burn diesel all winter long.

"We've got power. I mean, I don't think it's a question of not having enough power; it's a question of how much diesel do we have to burn?" she said.

"If we're faced with a situation where we have to burn a lot of diesel over an extended period of time, that's when we would have to look at going back to the Yukon Utilities Board and saying, 'We need more money to operate because we're spending all this money on diesel.'"

Yukon Energy graphs mapping recent energy consumption suggest about 20 per cent of the territory's energy needs are being produced by diesel-generated power.