OPENING STATEMENT Based on 2014-2015 study by Benjamin Ryan, Participating in Vital Energy Needs – The Benefits of a Yukon Fuel Supply Chain, the Yukon spends over $200 million per year on fossil fuels, all of which are imported from outside of the territory, and of which two-thirds are imported from outside of Canada. It is estimated that 9,000,000 litres of fuel are consumed to transport this fuel into the Yukon. This level of expenditure represents a significant economic leakage from the Yukon’s economy.
BACKGROUND Excluding a few local fuel distributors who benefit from the transport and sale of fossil fuels (worth approximately $34.7 million per year), fossil fuel consumption currently represents in an economic drain on Yukon’s economy in excess of $200 million per year. Yukoners use fossil fuels for a range of different activities, some of which lend themselves to currently available alternatives (i.e. space heating at 14.5% of fossil fuels consumed) and others, for which substitute alternatives are not currently available (i.e. aviation fuel at ~9% of fossil fuels consumed and off-highway equipment diesel at 16.4% of fossil fuels consumed). The majority of fossil fuels are consumed by personal and commercial motor vehicles (54%), with 20% of total fossil fuel consumption attributable to trucks bringing goods in and out of the territory and the remaining 34% attributable to local personal and commercial motor vehicles and tourist traffic.
Three alternatives to imported fossil fuels have been identified, all of which can reduce the economic leakage attributable to fossil fuel impor
1. Improved Energy Efficiency 2. Renewable Energy Solutions 3. Domestic Fossil Fuel Production
1) Improved Energy Efficiency
a. Space Heating Efficiency
Space heating, through imported fossil fuel use, represents an economic leakage of $28 million annually. Advancements in efficiency technologies and building codes help to drive construction of more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, but the territory has an extensive stock of legacy buildings that were built to older standards (or no standards at all) and are energy inefficient. These buildings present an opportunity for energy retrofitting, which, in turn, presents an opportunity for the occupants of the buildings to reduce their heating bills and local contractors and suppliers to perform the retrofits.
While the economic case for improving energy efficiency may be apparent at a territorial level, it is not always apparent or affordable for building owners. A significant barrier to improving energy efficiency is the upfront capital cost required to renovate existing buildings. Stimulating the renovation of existing buildings for energy efficiency purposes will require mechanisms to improve access to capital and incentives to make a clear and compelling business case for efficiency upgrades.
b. Transportation Efficiency
The majority of fossil fuels are consumed by personal and commercial motor vehicles (54%), with 20% of total fossil fuel consumption attributable to trucks bringing goods into and out of the territory and the remaining 34% attributable to local personal and commercial motor vehicles and tourist traffic. Changing transportation-related fuel consumer behaviour requires the availability of alternatives that provide identifiable value to consumers (improved ease of mobility, availability, convenience, affordability/lower cost, etc.). Identifiable alternatives include:
a) Public transportation (enhanced municipal public transportation where such transportation exists), b) Regular inter-community transportation services, and c) Developing infrastructure to support the use of non-fossil fuel reliant vehicles (e.g. electric charging and/or hydrogen fuel stations). d) More affordable energy efficient vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids
Public transportation was identified in the 2014 Yukon Labour Market Supply and Migration Study as a barrier for many Yukoners to find and maintain work, both in Whitehorse and in the communities. The report goes on to state “Public bus schedules in Whitehorse do not always align well with work schedules or because the job site is not in a location where public transportation is available. When transit or a car is not available, alternative transit such as a taxi comes at a high cost which can be prohibitive if there is any such transportation available at all.” Recognizing that public transit service in Whitehorse (while recently enhanced) and the communities is both an opportunity to reduce the use of private vehicles and a way to facilitate access to jobs, a robust and affordable public transportation system is important to both Yukoners and Yukon businesses.