Written by Chuck Tobin for Whitehorse Daily Star
Published April 19, 2017
WIND ENERGY PROPOSAL – A proposal to install three modern wind turbines with heated blades on Haeckel Hill has been filed with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. The above image was provided by the Whitehorse company proposing the project. Image courtesy of NORTHERN ENERGY CAPITAL. OLDER MODEL – The newest of Yukon Energy’s two wind turbines on Haeckel Hill was installed in 2000. Both turbines have had issues over the years with icing.
STAR FILE PHOTO Inset: SHANE ANDRE
A proposal to install enough wind generation on Haeckel Hill to power 525 homes has been filed with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board.
Northern Energy Capital of Whitehorse is proposing to put up three, 900-kilowatt turbines for a total generating capacity of 2.7 megawatts.
Company president Malek Tawashy said Northern Energy wants to attract investment from First Nation development corporations and the general public to create community buy-in.
“That is important to us, to be community-based and to have some aspect of community ownership,” Tawashy said this morning from his office in Vancouver.
“We can’t succeed in being sustainable generation unless everybody wins.”
He said two development corporations are currently doing their due diligence to determine whether they’ll invest in the project.
Northern Energy has the financial capacity to go forward with the $14-million project without additional outside investment, Tawashy said, but the company is committed to the development of community-owned renewable energy.
He said until more is known about what the Yukon government is willing to pay for the power, it’s difficult to determine how much a public share in the company would sell for.
Moving the project forward is largely dependent on the power purchase agreement with the government and how soon those details can be worked out, Tawashy said.
He said Northern Energy will be shovel-ready in the first three months of next year.
If the power purchase agreement comes together, it would be generating power next year.
The company has entered into a sublease with Yukon Energy to use the site, which includes taking down the corporation’s 150-kilowatt Bonus wind turbine installed in 1993, Tawashy said. The Bonus has been inoperable for several years.
Tawashy said there’s no plan currently to remove Yukon Energy’s newer and larger Vestas 660-kilowatt turbine installed in 2000.
Both the Bonus and Vestas have had their issues over the years, particularly with rime icing in the winter.
Under the proposal, Northern Energy would double the capacity of the existing transmission line running down Haeckel Hill.
If the company can’t tie into ATCO Electric Yukon’s Fish Lake substation, it has an alternate plan to run a new transmission line over to the Kulan industrial subdivision, Tawashy said.
Locating the three turbines at the same site has less environmental impact than multiple sites and is more sound financially, he added.
Northern Energy installed a 70-metre meteorological tower at the site last October to collect wind resource data.
The company is working with the local NGC Builders owned by Doug Gilday, co-owner of New Era Hydro, the company that built and operates a micro-hydro generating plant to power the Fraser, B.C. customs station on the South Klondike Highway.
The proposal says maximum generation would occur in the winter when demand on the grid is at its highest.
It would not only offset the need for diesel and natural gas generation during peak demand, but would also allow Yukon Energy to use less water for generation and subsequently stretch out the water it has stored in its reservoirs for wintertime use.
“Additional energy from this site would substantially reduce Yukon’s dependence on fossil fuels in the winter and supplement hydro-electric production on the Yukon electrical grid year round,” says the project proposal.
The proposal points out the wind turbines would be modern, state-of-the-art technology.
They would have heated blades to eliminate the problem associated with the rime icing that greatly reduces the efficiency of Yukon Energy’s two turbines.
As is typical with wind turbines, the greatest threat to wildlife is to birds and bats, but monitoring in recent and past years has shown virtually no fatalities at the Haeckel Hill site, says the proposal.
The deadline to provide comments to the assessment board is May 2.
Shane Andre of the Yukon government’s energy branch said this morning his department has been in contact with Northern Energy to discuss a power purchase agreement.
The Independent Power Production Policy was signed off by the former Yukon Party government but not fully implemented by the time the November 2016 election rolled around, he said.
He said there is still some work to do but he expects they’ll be in a position to accommodate Northern Energy’s schedule.
“I would be surprised if we were not ready to go by then,” he said of early next year. “I mean, that is almost a year from now.”
Some of the work involves discussions with Yukon Energy and ATCO Electric Yukon regarding interconnection standards power producers will be required to meet when tying into the grid, Andre said.
He said they still need to establish a pricing mechanism that allows independent producers to move forward with their projects while protecting ratepayers.