Hansard November 21, 2013
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. After many years of dragging its heels and attempting to sell our publicly owned energy corporation to the private sector, the Yukon Party finally announced this summer that it was planning to expand our hydro generation. The Premier told local media in July that he wants to build a new hydro dam.Read more
Question re: Electrical rate stabilization fund
Mr. Silver: Earlier this week, I asked the minister responsible for energy about the new hydro projects. He didn’t want to talk about the new projects. After 10 years in office, the Yukon Party has no new hydro projects on the table ready to go. He did want to talk about rising energy rates inYukon. I welcome this conversation. We know that power rates will be increasing by close to 12 percent under this minister’s watch as a result of recent Yukon Utilities Board hearings. The interim electrical rebate provides residential customers with a maximum rebate of $26.62 per month for the first 1,000 kilowatt hours of power used. It is automatically applied to residential power bills.
The Yukon Party government rebate has been in place since 2009 and has been renewed annually in the last number of years. Given the recent 12-percent increase in bills, the need for this rebate is greater than ever. What is the future of this rebate? Will it go beyond March 31, 2014?Read more
Question re: Energy supply and demand
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, we have had many discussions this spring about the government’s failure to plan for an energy cliff that Yukon is about to go over. Demand is rising when our supply can’t keep up. This lack of planning has left the government scrambling to keep up and has resulted in Yukoners paying higher electricity bills. The government is now moving ahead with plans to burn natural gas to try and address this problem. It’s better than diesel, but it’s certainly not a green fuel. A lack of planning has left us with no other options. The minister told this House a short time ago, “We do have a commitment to continue to pursue the development of hydro projects.” This is something we can support, Mr. Speaker.
Other than the project in Skagway that we’ve already discussed and is years away, what hydro project is the government pursuing and when might it be ready?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, in a recent article in the local newspaper, the Premier was asked about the potential of opening the Victoria Gold mine near Mayo.
The original plan for the mine was to tie into the existing power grid. However, the Premier told the paper that there is now a second option on the table: having the mine generate its own power by burning diesel or possibly a diesel-natural gas mix, and I quote: “Those two options are still on the table and being discussed by the company and officials as well”. The article goes on to say that, according to the Victoria Gold president, the company has no plans to generate its own power, “No, it’s still our intention to tie into the grid. We’re actually not permitted to have our own power system, so we’re working very closely with Yukon Energy Corporation to tie into the grid and have them provide power.”
The company and the Premier seem to be in contradiction with each other here, and I just want to know: Does the Premier stand by his comments, or does he want to correct the public record?Read more
Mr. Silver: One of the predominant themes of this sitting is a lack of planning done by this government when it comes to major issues. We have seen this with the new F.H. Collins Secondary School, with the two new rural hospitals, with doctor recruitment, with the Peel watershed, with the housing strategy and, of course, when it comes to planning for our energy future. We are facing a looming power supply shortage in the Yukon. We are fast approaching a power supply cliff, and even the minister himself has acknowledged that. One of the reasons we’re in this situation is a lack of planning from the government. A project the government is looking at in Skagway recently was trying to get money to fund a feasibility study. According to the Mayor of Skagway, the chances of the municipality getting a feasibility study funded are pretty slim. This is a $140-million project that is years away from happening, if it ever will. Has the Yukon Development Corporation spent any of its own money on this project?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. In February of this year, I called on the Premier to confirm that officials from both the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation would appear as witnesses in this Chamber during the upcoming spring session.
It has been two full years since representatives of either corporation have sat in the Legislative Assembly. The government has been very reluctant to have either corporation appear to answer questions and the public deserves better. I wanted a commitment well in advance of the sitting that both corporations would appear this spring. My request has never been answered. We are almost one-third of the way through the spring session and I still have not received an answer.
Will officials from both corporations appear this spring?Read more
Mr. Silver: As far back as 2007, the Yukon Liberal Party has been advocating for the government to adapt an independent power producer policy, or an IPP. An IPP policy would enable businesses to generate their own electricity. This is something a number of mining companies are interested in doing. They see it as a way to power their own projects. The holdup is the Yukon government, which has been talking about putting a policy in place to allow this for over four years now and there still is no policy. The minister has told this House that work on the policy is ongoing. The government’s website says, “We expect to return to the public for review of the IPP draft policy in the coming months.” This is something industry and the Liberal caucus have been promoting for a number of years.
When will we see a policy in place?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. There has been a great deal of discussion about the situation we find ourselves in with respect to a looming power supply shortage in the Yukon. We are fast approaching a power-supply cliff. Even the minister will acknowledge that. A decision by a major mine to go into production would likely push Yukon Energy beyond its current generating capacity, leaving us no choice but to burn diesel to meet the increased demand. Currently the Public Utilities Act obligates the government to allow these large industrial customers to be hooked up to the grid. It doesn’t have to be that way. To get around this obligation to serve, the government could simply amend the Public Utilities Act.
Has the government considered this idea and, if not, why not?Read more