First Nations Communities in Canada to Receive $7 Million for Clean Energy Production

Indigenous groups in British Columbia will receive funding from the Canadian government to pursue clean energy projects – particularly to retrofit or replace diesel-burning heating units.

In this Sept. 25, 2018 photo, a BC Ferries boat sails near Vancouver Island, British Columbia, at sunrise. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(CN) — Natural Resource Canada announced Friday it will award over $7 million to support nine biomass energy projects being undertaken by First Nations communities across British Columbia.

The projects are intended to help Indigenous communities reduce their reliance on diesel generators and other fossil fuels, and strive toward energy independence while creating new green jobs for local residents. The projects are all unique, yet they share the common goal of creating healthier, more resilient communities.

The effort is being funded through Natural Resource Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program, which has earmarked $175 million to develop and deploy renewable energy projects to reduce rural communities’ reliance on diesel fuel, encourage energy efficiency and build local skills and energy capacity.

The program falls under the umbrella of the much larger Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program — a $144 billion effort to invest in infrastructure projects across the country such as public transportation and clean energy.

“Indigenous communities are showcasing their innovative solutions for combatting climate change, all while creating local jobs and advancing self-determination. We congratulate them on their leadership in their energy transformation,” said Terry Beech, a member of Parliament for Burnaby North — Seymour, in a related statement.

The goal of the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program is to transition these communities to more sustainable and cleaner sources of energy while reducing their reliance on diesel and other fossil fuels. Program managers solicited projects designed to retrofit heating systems to run on biomass sources in both community and industrial settings. The program has also looked into deploying other renewable energy sources, such as hydro, wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy for electricity generation.

To qualify for full funding under the program, communities must not be connected to the North American electrical grid or the natural gas pipeline network, and must have been in their current location longer than five years and contain at least 10 dwellings. Communities can also qualify for the bioheat portion of the program if they’re connected to the electrical grid, but not the natural gas pipeline network, and contain fewer than 1,000 people.

Among the projects being funded, the Kwadacha First Nation in Fort Ware, British Columbia is building a novel briquette-making system to convert the sawdust created as a byproduct of their wood-chipping operations into biomass fuel. Sawdust will be compacted into briquettes which can then be used to power residential woodstoves, providing users a cleaner alternative to diesel. That project is expected to cost nearly $600,000.

“The funding from Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program will help our community turn a large amount of wood waste from a potential fire-hazard into a valuable home heating resource and will provide economic development and employment opportunities for our members,” said Darryl McCook, Chief of the Kwadacha First Nation, in a related statement.

Other projects include:

• $379,000 to Chu Cho Environmental to prepare technical studies for the Tsay Keh Dene Nation in Prince George to develop its own wood chip-based biomass energy generation system.

• $799,000 to the Tsay Keh Dene Nation to build a biomass energy plant based on the feasibility study completed by Chu Cho Environmental.

• $474,000 to Gitxsan Energy Inc. in Hazelton for its work converting the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en Education Society college from propane to biomass heating by demolishing a boiler room and constructing a new one that runs on biofuel, along with construction of two biomass boilers.

• $586,000 to the Twin Sisters Native Plant Nursery in Moberly Lake to replace its current forced air and propane-fueled system with a biomass-fueled heating system.

• $661,000 to the Lake Babine Nation in Burns Lake to install a biomass district heating system that will supply heat to four community buildings currently dependent on propane. This project will also use wood chips from local suppliers to fuel the new system.

• $108,000 to Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition in Hazelton for a new energy plan to reduce fossil fuel reliance in the Kispiox Valley community, the Anspayaxw Band and the remote community of the House of Luutkudziiwus.

• $2.3 million to the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership in Atlin for a feasibility study to expand a local hydroelectric facility that will export clean energy to Yukon’s southern grid via a new transmission line.

• $719,000 to the Lhoosk’uz Dene Nation in Anahim Lake to install a new Combined Heat and Power system paired with a battery storage solution to replace the two diesel generators currently powering the community.

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