Supporting clean, green energy development among First Nations continues to be a priority for the B.C. government.
Since 2011, through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund, B.C. has provided more than $5.8 million to support the participation of over 90 Aboriginal communities in the clean energy sector, including wind energy, biomass and run-of-river hydroelectric power.
Last year, the B.C. government invested more than $600,000 to support eight First Nations clean energy projects throughout the province. As of year-end, the B.C. government had also entered into 25 clean energy revenue-sharing agreements with 19 First Nations. More than $278,000 was shared with First Nations in 2014 as a result of those agreements.
Two years ago, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (pr. T - LAY - qwat), located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, received $500,000 from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund. The money was used to help finance the construction a run-of-river hydro project on Haa-ak-suuk Creek.
Today, the facility generates enough electricity to power some 3,000 homes on Vancouver Island. The Tla-o-qui-aht own 85% of the power facility and more than half of the revenues from energy sales to BC Hydro now go directly to the First Nation. What began as a feasibility study and later moved to revenue sharing and an equity investment, the Haa-ak-suuk Creek project is a good example of how the B.C. government is supporting successful clean, green energy development among First Nations.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation -
“First Nations are showing real leadership in the development of clean energy resources in their traditional territories. As we look to the New Year, the B.C. government will continue working with First Nations to support their involvement in the rapidly growing clean energy sector.”
Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines -
“Developing new sources of clean, sustainable power is vital for future of British Columbia. As a government, we recognize that First Nations’ participation in developing these resources is an essential part of that future.”
Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht Economic Development Director -
“The Tla-o-qui-aht Development Board has been able to utilize the funds to leverage the full financing required to build the Haa-ak-suuk run-of-river project, a key component in our land use plan. In time, the hydro project becomes an engine for further economic development projects.”
Listen to an audio clip of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad:
- The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund aims to promote increased First Nations participation in the clean energy sector through:
- Up to $500,000 in equity funding for First Nations to invest in clean energy projects and to help communities attract further investment.
- Up to $50,000 in capacity-development funding to support First Nations with community-energy planning, feasibility studies or engagement with private-sector proponents of clean energy projects.
- Revenue-sharing from eligible, new clean energy projects based on revenues from water and land rents.
- The B.C. government recognizes that clean energy projects provide many benefits and opportunities for First Nations communities.
- In November, a Clean Energy Strategy was included in BC Hydro’s Integrated Resource Plan, which committed to increasing and supporting First Nations participation in clean energy projects.
- The size of BC Hydro’s Standing Offer Program was also increased to provide more opportunities to First Nations communities to partner in the development of clean energy projects.
- B.C.’s clean energy sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the province, with more than 200 organizations, 68% of which were formed in the past decade.
For more information about the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund: http://www.gov.bc.ca/arr/economic/fncebf.html
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund 2014 projects
Tahltan Central Council, near Telegraph Creek, received $500,000 to support an equity investment in the Volcano Creek hydroelectric run-of-river project, built by AltaGas.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation, near Atlin, received $40,000 for a feasibility study to help determine the best options for generating additional run-of-river hydroelectric power to be delivered through a new transmission line.
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, near Tofino, received $10,000 to collect data related to power availability, environmental impacts and project design for run-of-river hydro facilities.
The Lax Kw’alaams Band, near Prince Rupert, received $19,972 to study two potential run-of-river hydro-power sites.
Wuikinuxv Nation, near Rivers Inlet, received $40,000 for a feasibility study to determine if a proposed run-of-river hydroelectric project is a viable renewable energy resource.
Penticton Indian Band, near Penticton, received $40,000 for a feasibility study to determine if a wind project and a run-of-river project are viable sources of clean energy for the community.
Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, near Fort Fraser, received $19,960 for a feasibility study examining ways of using a hybrid energy system that incorporates solar power to reduce diesel use at a community cultural camp.
Beecher Bay First Nation, near Sooke, received $40,000 for a feasibility study to determine if ocean thermal energy could become a viable source of heat for a new residential community currently under development.
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation