Indigenous clean-energy projects funded in B.C. Interior

January 13, 2022 at 11:52 am  BC, News, Politics

Three Indigenous communities in the Interior will join B.C.’s clean-energy sector with local projects following support from the Province.

The Province is partnering with Indigenous communities throughout B.C. to work toward a low-carbon future by providing funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF).

The fund helps develop clean-energy projects driven and owned by Indigenous communities in areas such as solar, ocean thermal, wind energy, biomass, run-of-river hydroelectric power, energy-efficiency planning and other clean energy-related areas. A key goal of the fund is to increase the participation of Indigenous communities in B.C.’s clean-energy sector.

The FNCEBF provides Indigenous communities with clean-energy support in the areas of studies and planning, equity funding and revenue sharing.

The Okanagan Nation Alliance received $500,000 in equity funding for the construction of a 15-megawatt utility-scale solar project located on the Upper Nicola Band Reserve, approximately 30 kilometres east of Merritt. The project involves a multi-community partnership between the Upper Nicola Band and the Okanagan Nation Alliance, and is in collaboration with FortisBC. Once operational, the solar farm will produce enough electricity to power almost 5,000 homes and will be interconnected with the BC Hydro distribution system.

In 2021, the FNCEBF also supported two additional Interior Indigenous communities in their pursuit of clean-energy capacity projects:

  • Xwísten (Bridge River Indian Band) — $30,000 in capacity funding for a community energy plan, which will provide a comprehensive long-term plan to support Xwísten’s energy resiliency, improve energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, build knowledge, reduce emissions and foster innovative energy solutions in the community; and
  • Ulkatcho First Nation — $50,000 in capacity funding for West Chilcotin Forest Products’ clean-energy business plan, which is a company owned and operated by the Ulkatcho First Nation. The business plan will help them transition to the clean-energy sector by establishing a solar farm and reducing diesel power use by residences on the Anahim Lake Reserve.

The FNCEBF is also resetting its capacity funding limit to $50,000 for all Indigenous communities to access for clean-energy projects.

In 2021, the fund provided more than $3.8 million to support new capacity and equity projects in 27 Indigenous communities throughout the province. The FNCEBF is accepting applications for the next intake until Jan. 31, 2022.

The FNCEBF aligns with the Province’s CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, which aims to create a balanced, sustainable future for climate action and the economy.

Quick Facts:

  • Since the FNCEBF began, more than 134 Indigenous communities have benefited from $18 million in capacity and equity funding.
  • In 2021, the FNCEBF distributed more than $8 million to Indigenous communities.
  • The FNCEBF provides equity funding to Indigenous communities:
    • as much as $500,000 for clean-energy projects;
    • as much as $150,000 in equity funding for community energy projects such as energy-efficiency, demand-side management and small fuel-switching projects; and
    • as much as $50,000 in capacity funding for projects such as community energy planning, feasibility studies or engagement with private-sector clean-energy project proponents.
  • Currently, 46 First Nations benefit from 71 clean-energy revenue-sharing agreements with B.C. that are based on new net, incremental revenue to government, derived from water rentals and land rents. Eventually, First Nations will also benefit from wind-participation rents.

Learn More:

First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund: http://ow.ly/JPz530apMVd

Clean Energy BC: www.cleanenergybc.org/

Quotes:

Murray Rankin, Minster of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“We’re working to support First Nations in developing clean-energy alternatives, especially in remote communities. The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund continues to be a great resource to strengthen Indigenous participation in the clean-energy sector and support energy-efficient, resilient communities in their transition to a low-carbon future.”

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation –

“Partnerships between industry and First Nations play an important part in building a low-carbon economy with new clean-energy jobs, while also improving quality of life in remote areas of B.C. Supporting First Nation communities in becoming more energy efficient provides a direct and sustainable path to achieving CleanBC’s climate targets.”

Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen

“Clean energy helps us combat climate change and provide good jobs, and projects like this make it clear that environmental and economic wins go hand-in-hand. This is a great example of the provincial and multiple First Nations governments all working together for the shared benefit of our communities, ecologically and economically.”

Daniel Manuel, acting CEO, Upper Nicola Holding Limited Partnership

“As the business development arm of Upper Nicola Band, Upper Nicola Holdings Limited Partnership has been working closely with the Okanagan Nation Alliance and FortisBC to develop the solar project. When constructed, the project will occupy approximately 40 hectares of designated lands on Upper Nicola Band’s Nicola Lake Indian Reserve No. 1. Energy produced by the over 30,000 solar panels will be sold to BC Hydro and will provide economic benefits to the communities involved.”

Stephen James, CEO, West Chilcotin Forest Products Ltd.

West Chilcotin Forest Products is 100% owned by Ulkatcho First Nations, and I’m the project manager for the clean-energy project for Ulkatcho. We are extremely pleased to be awarded the funding, as it will be used for a detailed business plan for a solar project. Power generated from a project like this would displace electricity that is currently being produced with diesel generators by BC Hydro.”

Chief Susan James, Xwísten (Bridge River Indian Band) –

“We are very pleased to have support from the Province of B.C. in assisting us in developing our Xwísten Community Energy Plan (CEP). The development of our CEP will provide us with a thorough roadmap forward on how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, while supporting economic development opportunities and building capacity within our community in the clean-energy sector. Through community engagement and a clear direction of where we need to go with our CEP, we are excited and look forward to the positive outcomes this will bring for us and the environment as a whole for everyone.”

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