It’s a Win-Win for Developing Clean, Renewable Energy in the North

There are many challenges to developing energy in the North. Remote working conditions and capacity challenges of any project can add additional fees to the budget. Harsh weather conditions with shorter construction periods make timelines and schedules critical to the success of the project.  Geography and long winters make hydropower sites more challenging to develop in some parts of Canada.

DSCN2588We know it can be done. The Atlin Tlingit Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP) and Xeitl Limited Partnership have been supplying the community of Atlin, BC with renewable electricity since 2009 with a very successful First Nations built, owned and operated 2.1 MW hydro plant that produces over 5 GWh of energy per year. 

IMG_0529Atlin is a small isolated community in the far northwest corner of British Columbia. It is a two hour drive from Whitehorse, Yukon and offers beautiful snowcapped mountain vistas to its nearly 500 full-time residents and visitors to the community.

It has been forecasted that the nearby Yukon Territory will need more than 500 GWh/yr of energy by 2021. That is an increase of 20% in less than three years. The Atlin Tlingit Economic Limited Partnership (ATELP), who currently supplies Atlin with renewable electricity, hired our team to study the feasibility of expanding the existing power plant to meet these needs … and we are up for the challenge!

Morrison Hershfield’s local Whitehorse team is examining the the feasibility of expanding the existing power plant and building a second power plant further downstream. In addition, 94 kilometers of new transmission line will need to be constructed between Atlin and the Yukon’s electrical grid. Once completed, the proposed Atlin Hydro Expansion Project would increase power production by 5 to 7MW with the potential to produce just under 50 GWh/yr of energy per year to be available for export to the Yukon. This amount represents about 10% of the total energy the Yukon needs by 2021 and provides potential greenhouse gas emission reduction of 20,000 tonnes per year.


The current options studied will create a win-win solution for all involved.

  1. Yukon Energy receives the additional power needed to meet the Yukon’s needs.
  2. The Atlin community will see significant economic development.
  3. It offers further empowerment to the Taku River Tlingit First Nations and its citizens.
  4. It is a clean energy solution with reduced greenhouse gas emissions for all.

What does the Future Hold for Atlin?DSCN2160

Atlin’s future will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the feasibility study for expanding the power plant. Once all due diligence has been completed, and feasibility of the project has been determined, a decision will be made and financing secured. Realistically, the best case scenario would see permitting and detailed design completed in 2019/2020. That would mean construction could start at early as 2021, with the potential to deliver power by the end of 2022.

“We have a great relationship with our client and are honored they asked us to facilitate both the pre-feasibility and feasibility studies on this important project. We work in close collaboration with Atlin Tlingit Economic Limited Partnership. They have put faith in us as their trusted advisors and we will not let them down.” Said David Morissette, Water Resource Engineer and Project Manager with Morrison Hershfield.

For more information on this project, please reach out to David Morissette at

Morrison Hershfield is a market leading, employee-owned professional engineering and management firm that has been making a difference since 1946. We deliver technically sophisticated, cost effective and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the globe.

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