Yukon Energy signs 40-year agreement to buy hydro power from Indigenous-owned energy corp in B.C.
Agreement is subject to conditions, including federal funding of $150 million for hydro expansion project
Yukon Energy has entered into an agreement with Atlin, B.C.'s Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership to buy renewable energy from its proposed $206-million hydro expansion project for 40 years beginning in late 2024.
"It's a pretty significant deal for us," said Andrew Hall, president and CEO of Yukon Energy. "[It] gives us certainty around the details of how we would purchase the power, what price we pay."
He said Yukon Energy will pay less or the same amount it would otherwise pay for electricity generated using liquefied natural gas and diesel.
The deal is subject to several conditions.
Over the course of the next six months, the Yukon Utilities Board will review the agreement and submit a report to the Yukon government on or before July 19, 2022, saying whether or not it thinks it's a good deal for ratepayers.
At the same time, Yukon Energy and Tlingit Homeland Energy, which is owned by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, will work together to secure $150 million in federal funding that's required for the proposed hydro electric expansion to take place.
Hall said the Yukon government committed to funding a portion of the project.
He added approvals are still required from the Taku River Tlingit First Nation and Yukon governments, more consultations need to take place — primarily with the Carcross Tagish First Nation — and permits are still required in both B.C. and Yukon for the transmission line that will bring the power from Atlin to the Yukon.
Meeting peak winter demand
If everything goes according to plan, the deal will add eight megawatts of capacity to the Yukon energy grid, allowing it to get rid of four rental diesel units.
Hall said one of the attractive features of Tlingit Homeland Energy's hydro project is that it produces energy in the winter. He explained that it stores water in the summer and generates electricity in the winter months.
Yukon set a new record in energy consumption on Jan. 6 this year, when it reached 116 megawatts.
"We need that capacity, those megawatts to meet the peak demand," said Hall.
He added the utility will buy on average 31 gigawatt hours of energy from September to May, every year. The amount is roughly equivalent to what's required to power 2,500 Yukon homes annually.
Peter Kirby, president and CEO of Taku Group of Companies, which owns Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership, said he was happy to reach an agreement with Yukon Energy on what will be "a generational relationship."
"It is a mutually beneficial project for B.C., for TRT (Taku River Tlingit), for Yukon and for Canada in terms of all of us are working collectively, cooperatively to build infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
Hall said Yukon Energy is required by the territorial government to have an average of 93 per cent of its electricity generated from renewable sources on its grid, and has a goal of increasing that to 97 per cent by 2030.
"Atlin is really important to that future and keeping our electricity green," he said. "And that's really important when you're looking to electrify, whether it's, you know, supporting Yukoners to buy electric vehicles or to heat their homes with electricity."
- An earlier version of this story stated that Yukon set a new record in energy consumption on Jan. 14, 2022, reaching 104.42 megawatts. In fact, the record peak was established on Jan. 6, 2022, at about 116 megawatts.Feb 04, 2022 5:10 PM CT
With files from Julien Gignac