Yukon Energy: Navigating Policy, Structure, and Climate Goal. A Reflection on the Complex Dynamics of Energy Policy and Infrastructure in Canada’s North
On September 21, we had the privilege of meeting Judy Booth (Manager, Low Carbon Transition Unit, Energy, Mines and Resources), Eric Labrecque (Demand Side Management EIT, Yukon Energy), Hudson Lucier (Senior Policy Analyst, Yukon Development Corporation), and Sara French-Rooke for a discussion about the structure and challenges faced by Yukon Energy.
Established in 1987, Yukon Energy is a publicly-owned electrical utility that operates as a separate entity from the Yukon government. They serve as the primary generator and transmitter of electrical energy in Yukon, collaborating closely with their parent company, Yukon Development Corporation, to provide Yukoners with reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective power.
Here, we share insights from Action Canada Fellow, Japman Bajaj ’23.
Policy-making cannot happen haphazardly, and oftentimes, when something feels dysfunctional, it can be rooted in a lack of cohesive structure that is not adaptive or iterative to the contexts in which it is meant to serve.
At first glance, that’s what the energy portfolio in Yukon looks like. But unsurprisingly, there are many thoughtful reasons for the structure underpinning the energy portfolio.
The Landscape: You have a territorial government that has robust and experienced policy-making teams. Then you have a territorial crown corporation to handle broader investment and operational assets in the territory that don’t fit or are unsuitable for core government to handle and operate. Under that crown corporation, you have the energy utility that ensures that the lights (and more importantly, the heat) stay on in the middle of -50 degrees winters, amongst other energy needs.
News Flash: Winters in the Yukon are cold. But they’re also a matter of public safety. An extended power outage (which is highly possible) impacts not just the lights being off, but the heat staying on, exposes fire and CO2 alarms to their battery power, and might even cut off phone service.
Power grids require upkeep and maintenance, and those investments are not cheap. Meanwhile the energy policy environment nationally is changing quickly; for example, within 12 years, all new cars in Canada will be zero-emission vehicles, which will require charging infrastructure in homes and on the roads to meet that need, most of which does not exist today.
So, with booming population growth, a constrained fiscal environment, an affordability crisis, a functional but aging energy grid, and a nuanced policy environment, how would you juggle these variables to ensure that Yukoners have reliable and cost-sensitive access to energy, while also future proofing the energy portfolio to meet the climate and energy goals of the future?
These decisions cannot be handled in isolation; policymakers can’t provide the operational expertise to run a utility, and similarly, a territorial energy operator isn’t mandated – and for the sake of operational excellence, should not be mandated – to establish the guardrails, guidelines, and incentive structures for a fast-changing energy ecosystem that also must cohesively interact with the energy policy environments in other jurisdictions.
Policy Is Hard. Policy is Nuanced. Structure Matters.
Japman Bajaj is a modern, innovative, and experienced corporate and entrepreneurial executive, driven by society’s big opportunities and challenges.
Japman is passionate about learning and applying new skills, technologies, and frameworks to create more resilient, innovative, and valuable products, organizations, and systems. He is a past Board Member of the Trans Canada Trail and serves on a number of global committees related to education and skills development.
Driven by a more equitable, more accessible, and a higher quality of education, Japman focuses on enabling and empowering individuals through skills validation. Currently, Japman serves as Executive Vice President of Vametric Corporation, and is responsible for the overall growth and operationalization of the business.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Japman spent seven years living in Alberta, and now lives in Toronto. Outside of his work with Vametric, he facilitates real estate financing for large commercial projects, focusing on multi-residential housing amidst Canada’s current housing crisis. Outside of work, he’s most likely to be found on his bike, at a coffee shop, at a stand-up comedy show, or with family and friends.
Yukon Energy Photos
Yukon Energy – Whitehorse Generating Station: A simple dam, and a fish weir that directs fish to the fishway (top). Solar panels (bottom)
Pathways to Reconciliation
Empowering Indigenous Employment: An Interview with Japman Bajaj ’23
On the occasion of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, NewsTalk 1010 engaged in a thought-provoking interview with Japman Bajaj ’23, a prominent advocate for more equitable and inclusive employment and training opportunities for Indigenous People. This interview explores the pressing issue of unemployment within Indigenous communities, which is on average 50% higher than non-Indigenous populations.
The conversation, led by Deb Hutton, underscores the importance of reflecting on the progress we have made and the work that lies ahead in supporting Indigenous communities.