First Nations communities across BC are ending their dependence on diesel by switching to alternative energy sources. The Community Energy Leadership Program supports investments in energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, stimulate economic activity and promote community partnerships.
Holiday lights are shining a little greener this winter in several remote First Nations communities that are making big strides to reduce their reliance on diesel fuel.
In 2016, First Nations communities in B.C. received approximately $3.2 million through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund — more than $2.2 million through revenue-sharing agreements and nearly $1 million in capacity and equity funding.
Funding for capacity and equity projects is an application-driven process that supports First Nations communities with the development of clean-energy projects and the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions. The funding program will accept applications for the next intake until Jan. 31, 2017. The program accepts applications in January and May.
This year, the B.C. government has funded nine capacity projects and three equity projects. The approved capacity projects range from identifying potential clean-energy projects within a First Nation’s traditional territory to conducting feasibility studies of a project in development. The three equity projects will help the remote communities of Kwadacha, Dease Lake and Xeni Gwet’in to reduce or end their reliance on greenhouse-gas-emitting energy sources.
The Dease Lake First Nation Energy Efficiency Project received an investment of $128,120. The project will see the community, just south of the Yukon border, complete an energy-efficiency retrofit on its homes that will include programmable thermostats, insulating hot-water pipes, installing water-saving showerheads, upgrading to LED lighting and replacing inefficient gas-fired furnaces.
In the remote community of Fort Ware, home to the Kwadacha Nation, 570 kilometres north of Prince George, an investment of $400,000 supports a combined heat-and-power bioenergy system to offset diesel generation. Heat generated by the system will be used for a district energy system while electricity generated will be sold to BC Hydro under a 20-year Electricity Purchase Agreement. The Kwadacha Nation will also receive $150,000 towards the project from the Province’s Community Energy Leadership Program.
In the Nemiah Valley, Xeni Gwet’in received $250,000 to begin an electrification project that will swap out their aging and inefficient gasoline and diesel generators for a more reliable hybrid system of solar power and propane. The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund involvement in the community project supports affordable electricity in an area 90 kilometres from the nearest BC Hydro grid. It will be completed in two phases and will serve all homes in the community. The Xeni Gwet’in will also receive $36,000 towards the project from the Province’s Community Energy Leadership Program.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation —
“Finding a way for these remote First Nations communities to end their dependence on diesel is part of B.C.’s efforts to meet its Climate Leadership Plan goals. The fund provides the money for these communities to determine the viability of alternative energy sources and a means to get their projects going.”
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –
“We know that First Nations are interested in ensuring their communities are prepared to adapt to climate change and are able to capture the economic benefit of mitigation activities, including reforestation and clean-energy projects. In the year ahead, we look forward to working with First Nations on the economic and adaptation opportunities we have identified.”
Paul Kariya, executive director, Clean Energy BC –
“First Nations have become real leaders in the clean-energy sector, not only for the practical reasons of getting off power sources like diesel, but because it makes economic and environmental sense. For economic development, First Nations need reliable and affordable electricity.”
Donny Van Somer, Chief, Kwadacha First Nation –
“The Kwadacha Nation has relied on diesel-generated electricity for far too long. The installation of the bioenergy system will bring critical new power infrastructure to our remote community in an environmentally sustainable way and also brings some new jobs to the membership. From an economic standpoint, the 20-year Electricity Purchase Agreement also ensures our nation receives long-term benefits from the facility and works toward the community’s vision of self-sustainability.”
- The B.C. First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund provides equity funding to First Nations up to $500,000 for clean-energy projects; up to $150,000 in equity funding toward energy-efficiency projects (also known as demand-side management); and capacity funding up to $50,000. Capacity funding supports feasibility studies for developing clean-energy projects or engagement with private-sector clean-energy project proponents.
- Since the fund was introduced in 2010, more than 110 First Nations communities have benefited from nearly $8.2 million in capacity and equity funding. Funding has supported the development of First Nations clean-energy projects in areas such as oceanic thermal, wind energy, biomass, run-of-river hydroelectric power, clean-energy planning and other clean-energy-related areas.
- The fund also provides First Nations with revenue-sharing agreements that allow them to receive 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. Thirty-four B.C. First Nations communities benefit from revenue-sharing agreements.
- The Community Energy Leadership Program supports investments in energy-efficiency and clean-energy projects that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, stimulate economic activity and promote community partnerships with industry that advance British Columbia’s growing clean energy sector.
First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund: www.gov.bc.ca/arr/economic/fncebf.html
Community Energy Leadership Program: www.gov.bc.ca/communityenergyleadershipprogram
Clean Energy BC: www.cleanenergybc.org/
Edward HillMedia Relations
Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation
Kwadacha Nation, 570 kilometres north of Prince George, received $400,000 to build a bioenergy system to offset diesel generation.
Dease River First Nation, just south of the Yukon border, received $120,000 for energy-efficiency retrofits in community buildings and homes.
Xeni Gwet’in First Nations in the Nemiah Valley received $250,000 for the first phase of a hybrid solar electrical system for the community.
Huu-ay-aht First Nations, near Port Alberni, received $10,000 to explore the potential for a run-of-river hydroelectric facility on the Sarita River.
Splatsin, near Enderby, received $25,400 to develop a community clean-energy plan to generate electricity.
Tla’amin First Nation, near Powell River, received $40,000 for a feasibility study of the Sliammon River Hydroelectric Project.
Dzawadaenuxw First Nation, near Port McNeil, received $40,000 to conduct a hydrological study.
Kitselas First Nation, near Kitimat, received $10,000 to study a potential partnership in a geothermal project.
Skeetchestn Indian Band, near Kamloops, received $30,000 to explore wind and solar resources.
Okanagan Nation, near Kelowna, received $18,000 to study the feasibility of solar buildings and a microgrid system.
Ditidaht First Nations, near Port Renfrew, received $10,000 to study a run-of-river hydroelectric project on the Little Nitinat River.
Lake Cowichan First Nation received $30,000 to assess hydro and solar options.