Clean Power

Published on May 16th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


New Yukon Hydroelectric Work Plan Released

May 16th, 2014 by  

The smallest of Canada’s three federal territories has released a new hydroelectric work plan, Next Generation Hydro for Yukon, that is the first step towards what the Yukon Government is describing as a “comprehensive investigation of a new large-scale hydroelectric power facility.”

“This work plan is a blueprint for identifying and investigating potential new hydroelectric power sites,” the minister responsible for Yukon Development Corporation, Scott Kent, said. “We’re eager to get to work on this vital project, which will bring long-term benefits to Yukon.”

“It is time for bold leadership to take charge of our energy future so that the next generation of Yukoners will be able to continue to enjoy the benefit of affordable and reliable hydroelectricity,” write the authors of the report.

Specifically, the Directive states YDC is “to plan one or more hydroelectric projects to ensure, together with supporting renewable and, to the minimum extent feasible, non‐renewable sources of electrical power, for an adequate and affordable supply of reliable and sustainable electrical power in Yukon.”

Image Credit: Yukon Energy Corp

The Whitehorse dam on the Yukon River
Image Credit: Yukon Energy Corp

Yukon is in an untenable position, with its own hydro electrical supply nearing capacity and no connecting transmission lines that will allow the state to buy more power. Therefore, it is planning to meet mid-term needs (10-20 years) as well as long-term needs (20-50 years) with a new hydroelectric supply of energy.

The state already boasts an impressive 95% hydroelectric supply rate, but has found that extending such capacity is not as easy as it may appear for a state littered with rivers. According to the report, a number of rivers with the best hydro potential are either located in national parks or along the Yukon River — sites which are excluded from consideration. This leaves a number of major rivers, but these options are similarly limited by geography and climate.

There are a number of first steps to be made that the directive hopes will take place over the next 12 to 18 months, which include a number of technical papers and preferred site analyses. Nevertheless, though the plan may require a great deal of time to push through the stereotypical bureaucratic nonsense, Yukon does appear to be on a healthy road towards hydroelectric sustainability.

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

  • Justin Berger

    Large scale hydro disrupts local climate, destroys forests, ravages fish and wildlife habitat, and releases a large amount of carbon, methane, and heavy metals from decaying biomass on flooded land. In a place like the Yukon where many people live by hunting and trapping, as they have done for millennia, it’s a potential threat to people’s lively hood and way of life. Aboriginal communities in northern Quebec and Manitoba have been severely harmed by mercury contamination of fish and game as result of hydro electric development there.

    The demand for this power is to support increased oil gas and mining activity. It may not be a coal plant, but there’s nothing clean or green about these old school mega projects.

    Proponents of this kind of thing might think of regulatory approvals and community consultation to be “stereotypical bureaucratic nonsense” but to the people who have to live with the consequences this is life and death stuff.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Well, bodies of water in Canada can actually be carbon sinks on account of how it’s cold. But then, there are people working hard to change that. Any way, the decreasing cost of wind and solar power are reducing the chances of new hydroelectric dams being built.

  • Matt

    Not seen a wind chart of Canada, isn’t wind a option? And it goes in faster than a dam.

  • akmk

    Small hydro and hydro sited on rivers without important fisheries are best. Easy to save 5% of energy with weatherization and energy efficiency measures and less expensive also.

  • “The state already boasts an impressive 95% hydroelectric supply rate, but has found that extending such capacity is not as easy as it may appear for a state littered with rivers.”

    It’s not a “state”, it’s a “territory”. And a beautiful one at that!

  • JamesWimberley

    Yukon may be the smallest federal territory, but it’s still bigger than California and almost the size of Spain.

    Why are more dams on the Yukon out of bounds?

    “The plan may require a great deal of time to push through the stereotypical bureaucratic nonsense ..” The “nonsense” includee environmental impact assessments. The boreal forest, though enormous, is quite fragile and deserves care. Some red tape is essential.

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