Energy, Mines and Resources

Energy Branch / Energy Solutions Centre

Yukon Energy Corporation’s secondary sales initiative

Displacing heat from fossil fuels with heat from renewable energy

Yukon Energy Corporation’s secondary sales program gives eligible Yukon businesses the option of using surplus renewable power to heat their facilities instead of more expensive fossil fuels. It is priced at a discount to furnace oil, saving participating companies about 30% on their heating bills. 


Project profile

At some times of the year, Yukon Energy has the ability to produce more electricity than needed. To take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of this surplus power, the corporation developed a Secondary Sales Program.

The program gives eligible Yukon commercial customers the option of using hydro power to heat their facilities instead of diesel fuel or propane, both of which are more expensive. There are some stipulations:

  • the commercial customer's existing heating system must be maintained and fully operational so that it can be re-activated on 24 hours’ notice;
  • a second electrically fired heating system must be added to use the secondary sales electricity as a heating source; and,
  • the commercial customer must also be located in an area that is served by hydro-generated power.

The Secondary Sales Program helps customers save 10% or more on heating bills and it displaces the use of diesel fuel for heating, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions.

Historically, Yukon Energy used a conservative approach to managing secondary sales customers whereby the corporation would “cut off” electric heat to the customer a month in advance of any anticipated hydro shortfalls.

The corporation has now refined its ability to maximize secondary sales by connecting commercial customers to an industrial computer system known as SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition).

Monitors showing the controls for Yukon's electricity grid.
Yukon Energy Corporation’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system gives the ability to instantly respond to demand fluctuations on the grid.

SCADA gives YEC the ability to instantly respond to demand fluctuations on the grid. This means SCADA-connected secondary sales customers are ‘first on/last off’ and able to benefit from the program more than customers who must be manually connected and disconnected.

In these instances, the Yukon Energy controls the energy flow to the electric boiler. If conditions on the electricity grid do not support secondary sales, SCADA sends an “unavailable” signal to the secondary sales customer that will shut down the boiler. Shut down can be staged, which is a requirement for most large electricity boilers, or immediate depending on circumstances.

Power to secondary sales customers is then inhibited for a predetermined period of time and can resume once electricity is again available. This improves the efficiency with which electricity can be made available to meet large heat demands.

Yukon Energy has worked with several local partners to make SCADA a viable option for private sector customers. These partners include:

Canada Games Centre

  • Secondary sales customer since 2005.
  • Secondary sales used for: space heating.
  • Upfront capital cost: approximately $300,000.
  • Amount of secondary sales used annually: approximately 5-6 GWh.

Boilers at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse
Whitehorse’s Canada Games Centre with its secondary sales boilers.

  • Annual savings: approximately $100,000.
  • Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions savings: approximately 1,600 to 1,900 tonnes CO2e.

 Whitehorse General Hospital

  • Returned as a secondary sales customer in late 2014; was a prior secondary sales customer from 2003 – 2010.
  • Secondary sales used for: space heating, laundry, instrument sterilization.

Boilers at the Whitehorse General Hospital
Secondary sales boiler at Whitehorse General Hospital.

  • Upfront capital cost: approximately $700,000.
  • Amount of secondary sales used annually: approximately 5 to 6 GWh.
  • Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions savings:  approximately 1600 to 1900 tonnes CO2e.
  • Annual savings: approximately $100,000.

  

To be an eligible partner, the private sector customer must:

  • have installed a second back-up heating system.
  • acknowledge that the secondary power is interruptible during times when renewable electricity is not available.
  • be connected via computer to Yukon Energy's system control centre via SCADA, so that the electricity can be automatically turned on and off based on the availability of surplus renewable power.


Project benefits

Financial Savings: tens of thousands of dollars in fuel bill savings each year for participating businesses.

Incentives for surplus energy: monetizes a source of energy that would otherwise go to waste, which helps keep rates low for electricity customers.

Use of renewable energy: makes use of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Back-up source of electricity: provides businesses with redundancy which is important during an unexpected outage.

Easy maintenance: electric boilers are cleaner and easier to operate and there is less maintenance.


Lessons learned

Government support: The Yukon government has a strong policy basis that supports secondary sales, including the Energy Strategy for Yukon and the Climate Change Action Plan.

Commitment from utility: Yukon Energy has demonstrated the significant leadership required to make the secondary sales program work.

Improved Economics: SCADA technologies have become more cost effective than they were five years ago, falling from approximately $100,000 for a system to $25,000. This reduced cost of the technology has dramatically improved the business case for installing these systems and enabled the utility to offer a competitive price for secondary sales.


Project outcome

Rising secondary sales in Yukon: Secondary sales accounted for approximately 7,000,000 kWh of Yukon Energy’s sales in 2015 and are forecast to grow to at least 9,000,000 kWh in 2016. This is an improvement over 2010 when sales accounted for less than 1,000,000 kWh.

Improved project economics and improved potential to meet the demand from new secondary sales customers in the future.

Improved understanding of system capabilities and requirements that can be applied elsewhere.

Next steps: the Yukon government’s Department of Highways and Public Works has plans to install SCADA systems in the J.V. Clarke School in Mayo, the Holy Family School in Whitehorse and Prospector Building in Whitehorse. Yukon College’s Ayamdigut Campus in Whitehorse is working to rejoin the program after a hiatus of several years.


This case study was done in partnership with the
Yukon Energy Corporation.