First Nations pursue energy efficiency, reduced reliance on diesel
Four First Nations on Vancouver Island are moving ahead with clean-energy projects that will reduce greenhouse gases and lead to substantial cost savings for their communities.
“We all have an important part to play in moving B.C. toward a future increasingly powered by clean, renewable energy sources,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “When it comes to developing and implementing clean-energy alternatives, many Indigenous communities are leading the way. The Province is pleased to support this work. Through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF), we are investing in business ventures that both reduce air pollution and increase economic opportunities for Indigenous communities.”
The Province has granted more than $930,000 from the FNCEBF to four clean-energy projects in 2019, as well as 10 communities that will use the money to study the need and feasibility of future clean-energy projects in their communities.
Funding for the FNCEBF helps Indigenous communities in their efforts to pursue clean-energy projects. It also supports CleanBC, the Province’s plan to give British Columbians new opportunities to build a cleaner future while protecting B.C.’s clean air, land and water.
“We hear, we see, we know how our planet, water and air is being affected from global warming,” said Chief James Thomas, Halalt First Nation. “We are at the tipping point of no return. If we all participate to help one another out, we may be able to make a dent in saving our planet. The installation of heat pumps and access to grants, such as the equity fund, allow us to be part of the solution and not the problem. When communities and individuals take initiative to participate in programs, such as installing heat pumps, utilizing curb-side recycling and getting rid of the use of plastics, there will be a larger, overall impact on our planet.”
The Halalt First Nation received $142,285 from the fund to support work to upgrade the heating systems in 30 homes and community buildings. Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation is dependent on diesel for energy and has received $170,000 to help develop a hybrid smart-grid solar photovoltaic and battery system.
“The hybrid solar project is important to the village of Gwa’yas’dums as we look for renewable and clean sources of energy that are reliable and efficient for the people who live there,” said Chief Rick Johnson, Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. “The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund provided support as we sought out innovative ways to improve service to the community.”
Tlatlasikwala First Nation, near Port Hardy, received a $194,205 grant to help build a solar and wind power microgrid backed up by batteries to reduce its reliance on diesel generators. Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation, near Gold River, has installed heat-pump systems in its administration and recreation buildings. The $360,000 project was supported by $142,285 from the fund.
“This grant represents a big boost to Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation’s ability to be an efficient user of energy, which is good for our environment,” said Chief Patrick James, Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation. “Our community is very appreciative to be part of a positive influence toward climate change. The money we will save in energy bills will allow us to spend those dollars on community initiatives focused on health and wellness, youth, education and other community-based programs.”
In 2019, a total of $140,000 will also be used by six communities to create community energy plans (CEPs):
- Cheam First Nation, $10,000
- Kwakiutl First Nation, $30,000
- Bonaparte Indian Band, $30,000
- Kitsumkalum First Nation, $10,000
- Sumas First Nation, $30,000
- Fort Nelson First Nation, $30,000
CEPs are used by communities to identify opportunities for clean-energy projects that can lead to energy savings and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and often lead to equity projects that may also receive funding from the FNCEBF.
Also this year, clean-energy feasibility studies were funded for:
- Kwikwetlem First Nation, $47,357
- Saulteau First Nations, $50,000
- Tl’esqox First Nation, $20,000
- Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, $11,607
Applications for the next FNCEBF intake will be accepted until the end of January 2020.
- Revenue into the FNCEBF has increased from $7.8 million in 2018 to $7.9 million in 2019.
- The FNCEBF provides up to $500,000 to support equity/construction in larger-scale projects, up to $150,000 to support community energy projects and up to $50,000 for funding that aids First Nations in investigating and pursuing clean-energy projects.
- Since 2011, more than 110 First Nations communities have benefited from more than $11.2 million in capacity and equity funding.
- The fund also provides revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations for a portion of water and land rents charged by the Province for new clean-energy projects. If an eligible clean-energy project site is on a traditional territory, First Nations may be eligible for a revenue-sharing agreement.
- Forty-three B.C. First Nations communities benefit from 64 clean-energy revenue-sharing agreements under the FNCEBF.
First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund: http://ow.ly/JPz530apMVd
A backgrounder follows.
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