Open Letter to the Mayor and Council of the City of Whitehorse
It’s International Compost Awareness Week (May 1-7) — an opportune time to ask a compost-related question: why is the City of Whitehorse secretly dumping organics in direct violation of its own bylaws? on waste management? This crude double standard wastes compost and money, produces greenhouse gases and shortens the life of landfills. Yet around 12,000 tons of compost have been quietly dumped, off the books, since 2009.
What I find so infuriating is that there is no need for this because a perfectly viable home solution is available. Moreover, it was in 2009 that the City of Whitehorse initially presented me with this problem, to which I will return.
Yet for years it has been politically expedient to pretend that this is not really the issue. This contradicts the intent of the 2019 Climate Change Emergency Declaration. It undermines the city’s waste diversion efforts, its credibility as a waste management regulator, and its legitimacy as a government. actor of climate action. The city got away with it because it can – there’s no public accountability or oversight.
If the Canadian composting industry gave out prizes, Whitehorse would win prizes. It produces compost to exacting standards by a well-trained and resourced municipal team. Despite best efforts, about half of the compost in Whitehorse cannot be used because it contains too much waste – which is unfortunately not unusual in the industry.
Politically, the city’s solution is education: let’s train people not to put trash in their compost bins. Education is important, but it is ineffective in the face of unprecedented growth in global plastics production and consumption. Plastic is in the air, water and soil. It’s in our body and our food. And it’s in our compost. I started working on a solution to this problem, and in 2014 I invented a machine that produced clean, waste-free compost. Burial was no longer necessary. It was and remains a major technological advance protected by international patents, and was bought by a major global manufacturer.
The city could have benefited from this technology in 2014 – at no cost – but ignored this fact and other highlights when bidding for the composting contract. Councilors Curteanu and Cameron, among others, said it was too expensive, before canceling it. Unfortunately for us taxpayers, they got it wrong. The city-run facility resulted in a 135% cost increase over my company’s fee. Customer service was cut, distribution removed and organic certification lost. Finally, the city set aside innovation and millions of dollars of investment.
Despite this stubbornness, my interest in our community’s compost remains – we need it for our research and development as we create ever bigger machines. We should be doing it here, for the benefit of our own community, rather than being forced to leave the territory to find a welcoming facility with appropriately motivated senior management.
It could be an easy and inexpensive climate action for the city to bring it into compliance with its own regulations and provide more clean compost. But it will take honesty and leadership. Will the current mayor and council take city bylaws and the climate emergency declaration seriously, or is this really greenwashing business as usual? I and many members of the community await your response.
Open Letter to Tracy-Anne Mcphee, Minister of Justice and John Streicker, Minister Responsible for Yukon Energy
Several people have asked me why the Yukon Utilities Consumers’ Group has not published letters in the newspaper lately. We sang the same tune to the various governments of the day and to the regulator for many, many years and it either fell on deaf ears or said ‘lip service’ that ‘we are looking at this’. So we got tired!
We called for electricity rate regulation to be reformed to bring Yukon up to date with modern regulatory processes that work with electric utilities to reward them for being more efficient and reduce the costs of rate regulation. Our current regulatory model was developed in 1986 when the Yukon Energy Corporation was created to take over the assets of NCPC and has not evolved, like everywhere else.
The latest news we are getting now from politicians and the media is that ATCO Electric Yukon is making and has made too much money since it last applied for a rate increase. It’s good that this private company has obviously become more efficient at controlling costs, while increasing sales. This translated into bigger profits. But they should share those “good times” with the taxpayers they serve. It’s not only good business, but it’s also good corporate citizenship. But our regulatory flow nor government policy is not designed to challenge that.
Our consumer organization has argued since 1994 that the two utilities use regulatory ploys to manipulate their profits after each rate hearing. They get their requested rate increase, and then they EARN on their regulatory yield. The various governments in power and the regulator have allowed this time and time again.
The other relevant issue that concerns us now is that the Yukon Energy Corporation, in its last rate hearing, congratulated itself on having developed an application that would not result in any increase in our bills. UCG argued it was just “smoke and mirrors”, but the regulator bought it. What they did was match their new revenue requirement increases with the end of the last rate adjustment endorsement, and then freezing the fuel endorsement (endorsement F) for the year 2021. Everything this was good in principle, but in reality the shit hit the fan when they came out with their compliance file on this.
In this filing, Yukon Energy is requesting an increased revenue requirement endorsement of 11.99% to be added to the existing J endorsement, resulting in 34.34% on our bills. On top of that they ask for a true-up driver, guess what???? Supplement or adjust revenues for 2021, plus a Rider F adjustment. An additional 2.56% increase on our bills for two years, starting in June. So much for coordinating and stabilizing our billing. They now claim that their bill stability was only for 2021.
Also, watch your bills carefully, because when the threshold is reached, the utilities will activate their Rider F fuel again on our bills, which they justify being granted to them by government decree. The same goes for the annual salary of their expensive Diesel provident fund. So Yukon Energy presents a budget to its regulator, and then they have these guarantors to fill their profit margin made possible by government orders. In the meantime, the YEC is spending millions on increasing its bureaucracy, more millions on favored consulting firms, and millions more on their regulatory procedures. TIME FOR REFORM?
Letters to the Editor