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Canada, B.C. support First Nations to power up new clean-energy projects

May 23, 2024 at 11:14 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Thirty-five First Nations throughout B.C. are receiving $9.8 million in federal and provincial funding to develop clean-energy projects that will help them meet their energy needs efficiently and sustainably, while creating more jobs for people in their communities.

“First Nations are key partners as we work together to build cleaner, more resilient communities and power B.C.’s growing economy with renewable electricity,” said Josie Osborne, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. “From roof-top solar to residential heat pumps and large-scale wind generation, the projects receiving funding today will advance Indigenous clean energy and create new opportunities across the province.”

The projects are receiving funding through the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative (BCICEI), a partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and New Relationship Trust (NRT). This round of BCICEI support includes $7.5 million from PacifiCan and Indigenous Services Canada and $2.3 million from the Government of B.C through its CleanBC plan. The funding will help First Nations develop and implement clean-energy generation, energy efficiency and energy storage projects, creating employment and economic opportunities in their communities.

“New Relationship Trust is dedicated to bolstering First Nations’ leadership in clean energy throughout B.C. These endeavours reduce greenhouse gas emissions, propel economic growth and foster well-being in urban and rural Indigenous communities provincewide,” said Walter Schneider, chief executive officer, NRT. “The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative stands out as a distinctive funding program that is guided by Indigenous leadership and fosters collaboration across various sectors, from government to industry to First Nations organizations.”  

The clean-energy projects differ in size and scope.

For example:

  • installation of air-source heat pumps in 70 homes for Sik-E-Dakh Band;
  • installation of a solar PV system on a former fish farm being redeveloped into a research centre for regenerative forestry practices for Kwiakah First Nation; and
  • conducting a feasibility study for a 40-megawatt wind project for Metlakatla First Nation.

To further support First Nations clean-energy projects, the Province, NRT and PacifiCan are about to start work on design of a new funding stream for BCICEI with input from First Nations. It will allow small-scale renewable-energy projects that are ineligible to submit to BC Hydro’s calls for power due to their size, to move forward and contribute to the power grid. The new stream will be funded with $140 million that was first announced in June 2023. This design process will kick off with an engagement period to gather ideas from interested First Nations.

The BCICEI is partially funded by Pacific Economic Development Canada through the Strategic Partnership Initiative (SPI), a unique federal program administered by Indigenous Services Canada and shared by a growing network of more than 20 federal partners. Its innovative whole-of-government approach helps advance Indigenous inclusion in large, complex economic development opportunities that span a range of industry sectors across Canada. SPI provides a way to fill funding gaps that create barriers to Indigenous involvement in economic opportunities. It also promotes partnerships between federal and non-federal groups to leverage additional funding and support for economic development opportunities.

Quotes:

Harjit S. Sajjan, federal Minister of Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) – 

“The transition to clean-energy sources is critical to Canada’s economic future and Indigenous Peoples have a significant role to play in that future. PacifiCan proudly established the BCICEI in partnership with Indigenous leaders, industry and the Province, and it has already supported 139 Indigenous clean-energy projects and created quality jobs and training opportunities in First Nations communities across B.C.”

Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Indigenous Services of Canada –

“The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative is a First Nation-led solution that will create good-paying jobs for communities. The renewable energy sector is growing across the world and this initiative will ensure Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia can benefit from this growth. Not only will it contribute to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions, but it will only help build an economy that is fair to everyone.”

Frank Voelker, band manager and economic development officer, Kwiakah First Nation –

“The support from the New Relationship Trust through the BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative has been invaluable for our project. It aligns with our priority objective of conserving and protecting our ancestral lands and waters while transitioning toward a stewardship economy. With their assistance, we are transforming a former fish farm into a centre of excellence for the research of regenerative forestry practices. The centre is powered by eco-friendly solar energy ensuring our operations harmonize with the majestic wilderness surrounding us.”

Ryan Leighton, chief operating officer, Metlakatla Development Corporation –

“Metlakatla Development Corporation is developing a 40-megawatt wind project on Mount Hays near Prince Rupert. The BC Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative funding will enable the required due diligence for Metlakatla to advance the project with a goal of submitting a bid to the 2024 clean power call or an alternative off-take option within the region. The funding is very beneficial in helping MDC de-risk the project in the early development phase.”

Quick Facts:

  • Since it started in 2016, BCICEI has funded more than 135 projects with approximately $30 million.
  • In addition to the new stream for small-scale projects to contribute to the power grid, BCICEI is expanding its funding to include community clean-energy planning projects. 
  • The details of the funding will be available on the NRT website soon.

Learn More:

To read more about New Relationship Trust, visit: https://newrelationshiptrust.ca

To read more about PacifiCan, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/pacific-economic-development.html

To read more about the CleanBC Remote Community Energy Strategy, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/electricity-alternative-energy/community-energy-solutions/remote-community-energy-strategy-rces

To read more about CleanBC, visit: https://cleanbc.gov.bc.ca

To read more about the 2024 Call for Power, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2024EMLI0018-000470

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