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Yukon parties lay out plans for renewable energy

The Yukon Party, Liberals and NDP are all talking about energy efficiency and reducing emissions, with the Yukon Party again pledging "no carbon tax."

All three major parties announce projects to reduce emissions, increase energy efficiency

Solar panels at Yukon College. All three major parties are promising to invest in renewable energy projects. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The first full week of the Yukon election campaign ended with the three major parties making promises about renewable energy, and the Yukon Party again warning against the other parties' plans for a burdensome carbon tax.

Yukon Party leader Darrell Pasloski, speaking at Jack Hulland School in Whitehorse on Friday, promised a "made-in-Yukon" approach to greenhouse gas emissions. Part of that will involve $47 million worth of energy upgrades at 20 Yukon schools.

"It's going to put a number of Yukoners to work, it's going to reduce our emissions, and it's going to reduce the amount of fuel that these buildings need to stay warm, and keep our kids warm," Pasloski said. "And the best part of this plan is, no carbon tax."

Yukon Party leader Darrell Pasloski at Jack Hulland School, promising $47 million worth of energy upgrades at 20 Yukon schools. (Dave Croft/CBC)

"The Liberals and the NDP want to impose a new tax on Yukoners."

The Yukon Party plan would see retrofits and upgrades such as better insulation, high-efficiency windows and lighting replacements. Schools in communities powered by diesel would see solar arrays installed. 

The party estimates the retrofits would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,900 tons per years, representing about nine per cent of the government's annual emissions.

NDP promises $50M for renewable energy sector

Meanwhile, the NDP was laying its own plan, at a modest bungalow in the Granger neighbourhood of Whitehorse. Media were given a map to the home where they found party leader Liz Hanson, flanked by two NDP election signs.

The home belongs to Don Roberts, a former cabinet minister in the Yukon's last Liberal government, lead by Pat Duncan from 2000 to 2002. 

Roberts is not running for office, but in recent years has become well known for his environmental lobby efforts, protesting the expanded use of fossil fuels at Yukon Energy's new LNG powered electrical generating plant.

On his home are eight solar panels.  

Leader Liz Hanson speaking at Don Roberts' house. She says helping home owners with solar panels is just one of the ways an NDP government would help Yukoners become greener. (Vic Istchenko/CBC)

"We're trying to save our planet ... we are doing our part," Roberts said. "Hopefully this is going to be future for all of us in the Yukon."

The NDP is promising to spend $50 million over five years, to help jump start a renewable energy sector in the Yukon.

Leader Liz Hanson says helping home owners with solar panels is just one of the ways an NDP government would help Yukoners become greener.

She points to ongoing solar and thermal projects by First Nations as investment opportunities.

"For $10 million a year, over five years, we can help entrepreneurs, First Nation Development Corporations, and other governments finance renewable energy projects to power Yukon's future," Hanson said.

She also slammed the Yukon Party government for missing opportunities to do more.

"Whistle Bend [subdivision] was originally designed on district heating and geothermal," Hanson recalled. "When F.H. Collins [school] was being proposed it was designed for geothermal, all the drilling was done."

Hanson says money from Ottawa's mandated carbon tax could help pay for about a third of the NDP's promised investments.

Liberals promise energy retrofits, partnerships with First Nations

The Liberals also blasted the Yukon Party government for ignoring green energy potential, with leader Sandy Silver calling the decision against geothermal at the new F.H. Collins school "a great example of that."

The Liberals unveiled their energy platform on Friday as well, and like the other parties, the focus is on renewable energy. The party favours small hydro, wind, solar and geothermal power. 

At a news conference, Mount Lorne-Southern Lakes candidate John Streicker said a Liberal government in Yukon would devote $30 million to retrofitting residential, commercial and government buildings, training a skilled Yukon labour force, and hiring Yukon companies to do the work. 

'We're talking about retrofitting the Yukon,' said Liberal candidate John Streicker, pictured at left, with Liberal leader Sandy Silver. (Nancy Thomson/CBC)

Streicker said the federal government could help defray the costs.

"We know the federal government is looking to support the North to transition to a sustainable energy future, and we would work directly with them to leverage funding sources," he said.

Streicker says another goal would be to find seasonal energy storage, so renewable energy collected in the summer can be used in winter.

The party is also promising to work with First Nations on energy projects.

"Respect our obligations and our partnerships with the First Nations governments — this also makes good business sense," said leader Sandy Silver.

The Liberals also say they will remove LNG projects from the Independent Power Production Policy, and work with communities and utilities to convert all street lighting to LED.

With files from Dave Croft, Vic Istchenko, and Nancy Thomson

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