Written by Mike Rudyk for CBC News Yukon
Published July 3, 2023
A transport truck hauls a wind turbine blade up Haeckel Hill, west of downtown Whitehorse. Four turbines are being installed over the coming weeks. The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 650 homes, over 20 years.
Four new wind turbines will soon be looking over Whitehorse from Haeckel Hill, with the big blades expected to be spinning by fall, and feeding power into Yukon Energy's electricity grid.
"It's very significant in fact, to finally see something going up," said Les Wilson, director of development for Chu Níikwan, the Kwanlin Dün First Nation's development corporation. Its company, Eagle Hill Energy LP, is managing the wind energy project.
"In the next two weeks, you'll see all four towers being raised."
The four massive turbines are still making their way to Whitehorse in pieces, being trucked up the highway from Stewart, B.C., where they arrived by ship from Europe. They were designed in the Netherlands.
It takes about six trucks to carry all of the components for a single 46-metre-tall turbine, said Malek Tawashy, director of Eagle Hill Energy.
Turbine blades destined for Whitehorse are unloaded at Stewart, B.C., to be trucked to the Yukon. The turbines, designed in the Netherlands, each need 6 trucks to carry all the components.
Haeckel Hill, west of the city's downtown, was once home to two working wind turbines owned by Yukon Energy. The first was installed in 1993, and the second, larger one went up in 2000. By 2018, both had reached the end of their lives and had been decommissioned.
The new turbines will be taller and with longer blades, said Tawashy. That means they can produce power at lower wind speeds than the old ones.
The new equipment is also better designed for a Northern climate, he said, with black, heated blades that will help reduce the amount of ice build-up — a common issue for the old Haeckel Hill turbines.
"This projects really presents a unique opportunity to provide more clean electricity onto the grid and reduce that increasing fossil fuel reliance," Tawashy said.
It's taken seven years to get to this point. The project started in 2016 and ground was broken at the site in 2021. Last summer's work involved rock blasting on the hilltop, building a concrete foundation for the turbines, and upgrading the steep, winding road up to the site.
Upgrades were done last summer to the steep, winding road up Haeckel Hill.
The company has also been collecting a lot of data over that time about the resource on Haeckel Hill, said Tawashy. He said it's clear that it's a good site for wind energy.
"What we've been seeing over the last eight years of data collection is that certainly the winds are strongest and most consistent in the winter, when Yukoners need that energy the most."
Each new wind turbine is equipped with a one-megawatt generator, compared to the older turbines which had 600-kilowatt generators. The new project is expected to produce enough energy to power up about 650 homes, over 20 years.
Tawashy said it's also a "milestone," as it's the first entirely Indigenous-owned wind power project in northern Canada.
"I think it's really something to be proud of," he said.
The turbines are expected to be spinning by October, to start feeding energy into Yukon's power grid this winter.
"I think really exemplifies First Nations values, and sustainable land stewardship and developing renewable and sustainable energy sources."
The company Eagle Hill Energy takes its name from the Southern Tutchone name for Haeckel Hill, Thäy T'äw, which means "Eagle Nest Mountain." The Kwanlin Dün believe a giant eagle nested on top of the mountain, the company's website states.
Tawashy says the turbines should be operational by October, to start feeding energy into Yukon's power grid this winter.
Click here for the CBC News article
About Eagle Hill Energy LP (EHELP)
Eagle Hill Energy LP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chu Níikwän Limited Partnership (CNLP), the development corporation of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation. CNLP works to grow the equity and resources of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation by investing in strategic opportunities to generate wealth for the future benefit of all citizens. The name Eagle Hill Energy is a reference to the traditional Kwanlin Dün place name for the hill known today as Haeckel Hill. As told by Elder Louis Smith, the mountain was traditionally known as Thay T’äw, or “Eagle Nest Mountain,” in Southern Tutchone, named for the giant eagle that made its nest on the summit.
About Northern Energy Capital (NEC)
Northern Energy Capital is a renewable energy development company, established in 2015, dedicated to empowering northern and remote communities in their transition from fossil fuel consumption to clean energy asset ownership. NEC is the development partner of choice for off-grid and remote communities that seek to achieve energy independence through locally owned and locally produced renewable energy.
NEC is proud to be part of this ground-breaking project, and we thank our partners at EWT, DSV, NexGen Transportation, GreenCat Renewables, and NGC Builders for contributing to the success of the first turbine delivery. We look forward to sharing more updates as we progress towards the successful completion of the Haeckel Hill Wind Energy Project with Eagle Hill Energy LP.
Are you interested in working with Northern Energy Capital on your next renewable energy project? We would love to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-213-8185 to learn more about how we can help you achieve your energy goals.