Skagway wants to hook up with the Yukon

·2 min read

On Jan. 6, the assembly of the Borough of Skagway, Alaska, fully endorsed a proposal from Yukon Energy Corporation (YEC) to explore extending electrical transmission lines from Whitehorse to the coastal port.

The two parties signed a three-page memorandum of understanding to assess the opportunity of bringing electricity to Skagway from the Yukon grid.

Both parties’ energy systems are affected by seasonality. In summer, Skagway’s demand escalates, while Yukon’s isolated grid has energy to spare.

Skagway’s mayor, Andrew Cremata, said their Assembly members are very excited about the opportunity.

“The vote was unanimous and little discussion was needed. The MOU passed easily,” he said.

For Skagway, the benefits of being able to electrify their harbor will be tangible.

Often a visible smog lays over the Skagway harbour, which is turning trees yellow — a side effect of four or five large cruise ships docked in port with their diesel engines idling to keep their systems running.

Transmission lines along the Skagway Road would enable shore-side electrification that would permit cruise lines to plug in their ships, and turn off their diesels. Those engines going quiet is the number one benefit for Skagway, Cremata says.

It would also benefit the cruise lines themselves. Both Andrew Hall, CEO of Yukon Energy, and Mayor Cremata talked about how important it has become for cruise line companies to source clean, renewable energy for both their marketing aims and responsible operations.

Hall said YEC had investigated the possibility of power lines to Skagway four or five years ago, but it was only recently that they started talking again. Hall called the Skagway piece the “icing on the cake” for the new and upgraded transmission line network between Atlin, Jakes Corner, Carcross, Skagway and Whitehorse.

For YEC, the Atlin project and the Moon Lake pumped storage facility are both supply side solutions, but the Skagway extension is a market opportunity — a place for YEC to sell surplus summer energy.

The Moon Lake project is about halfway between Carcross and Skagway, making the new line to Skagway even shorter. The Carcross to Whitehorse line will also need to be upgraded as part of the project as well.

Both Yukon Energy Corporation and the Borough of Skagway each put $100,000 towards future studies that will ascertain the feasibility of the project as part of the agreement. The timelines for the project vary depending who you talk to, but the project has begun.

Lawrie Crawford, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Yukon News

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