Question re: Energy transmission line - April 21, 2015

Mr. Silver: I want to talk about this government’s vision on energy. It has been well known that, for many years, the Yukon Party government spent its time and resources planning to sell our energy futures to a private company from Alberta. Many fruitless years and a resignation later, Yukon Party 2.0 has decided to take a closer-to-home look to energy solutions.

For example, last year, the government funded a study to look at the viability of an electrical interconnection between Yukon and southeast Alaska. It was called the West Creek project. Last fall, the minister said that the report would be ready in February of 2015. When will that $250,000 report be released to the public?

Hon. Mr. Kent: Studying the transmission link and potential telecommunications link between the Yukon and Skagway was extremely important work. The final study is scheduled to be completed this month, April 2015 — that’s my understanding from officials. There were two scenarios analyzed: developing the West Creek hydro project — which the member opposite referenced — near Skagway, and exporting power to Yukon during winter or Yukon transmitting power to Skagway for the cruise ship industry when we have additional capacity during the summer months.

Again, we also believe that an economic development corridor between Yukon and southeast Alaska has the potential to generate and provide affordable, reliable clean energy. It may also increase hydro supply — there are a number of potential projects located along that corridor, both in the Yukon, as well as British Columbia, then further into Alaska.

Again, as mentioned, my understanding from officials in Energy, Mines and Resources is that the final study is scheduled to be completed this month.

Mr. Silver: Our energy demands continue to grow and it’s time to make a decision on new sources of power. This government is now left with only one choice — more reliance on fossil fuels — because of its lack of long-term planning. It kind of left us with no other options.

Better late than never, but the fact remains that expanded hydro capacity is years away from becoming a reality. The government has two separate energy planning projects going on with two different departments in charge and with two different timelines in play. Yukoners have been waiting for this government to get serious about expanding our hydro capacity for more than a decade, and it appears that we’re going to have to continue to wait.

Realistically, how far away is the West Creek project in Skagway from actually happening?

Hon. Mr. Kent: The West Creek project, which would be the production project in Skagway, is something the Alaska Power & Telephone Company is proposing. It isn’t something that is being proposed by this government. Again, we’ve looked at the transmission viability and, again, Mr. Speaker, it’s interesting to listen to the Member for Klondike when it comes to promoting the use of natural gas or, in this case now, he’s not promoting the use of natural gas. We go back to 2011, December 14, I believe it was, and Hansard clearly shows that the Member for Klondike, at that time, was very supportive of using natural gas, not only to supplement the domestic power supply, but also supply some of the mines in the Yukon.

Again, we noticed the Member for Klondike flip-flopping on an issue. He just continues to — it is almost like watching Timbits hockey when it comes to the Liberals. There are a bunch of people just chasing the puck around rather than a solid strategy and vision, and that is what the Yukon Party has.

Mr. Silver: Talking about solid strategy and vision, this is the government that wanted to privatize our power and now we are actually being pigeonholed into one option and one option only because of this government’s decisions. Yukoners can appreciate that proper planning takes a lot of time. We only have to look at $6 million wasted on scrapping the design for F.H. Collins to see what happens when planning is not done properly.

Yukoners are not impressed with the fact that the Yukon Party government is only starting to address the issues of expanded hydro power after 12 years of being in office and, again, most of those years were spent by a former Energy, Mines and Resources minister leading the way toward privatization. Is this the leadership that the minister speaks about, Mr. Speaker?

Why did this government sit on its hands until an expansion of fossil fuel use in the form of a new LNG facility was its only option to meet the expanded demands for power?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: In addition to the very revisionist history we are hearing from the Leader of the Liberal Party, I would point out and remind — I actually have to ask the member: Has he been under a rock for the last decade? Is the member not aware of the investment in Mayo B, of the investment in the Aishihik third turbine, of the investment in the Carmacks-Stewart transmission line project? All of these are investments by this government in public hydro infrastructure assets. In fact, I would remind the member that, in this term, we have strengthened the oversight and governance of Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation and also made it very clear that all public hydro assets will continue to remain public hydro assets. We are investing over $100 million in public hydro assets. The member is either blissfully unaware of this or choosing to reflect something different in this House.