Westbank First Nation (WFN) will build a rooftop solar farm on its community school to demonstrate the viability of clean energy, supported by a $150,000 equity investment from the Province.
Funding is provided through B.C.’s First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF), which supports Indigenous communities in their efforts to pursue clean-energy projects. The FNCEBF supports CleanBC, the Province’s plan to build a cleaner future that creates opportunities for all British Columbians while protecting B.C.’s clean air, land and water.
The solar power generated from the roof farm means the Senisyusten House of Learning Elementary school can offset utility costs by an estimated $12,000 annually. The system will be connected to BC Hydro’s distribution system and be part of the utility’s net metering program.
WFN expanded and renovated the school to support the solar installation and established a clean energy building fund. It is expected the project will be complete by late summer 2019.
The 2018 FNCEBF also provided funds to six other First Nations to prioritize clean-energy equity projects in their communities. A total of $2.09 million in additional funding was granted to:
- Dzawada’enuxw First Nation – $500,000 to create a hydropower project to reduce its reliance on diesel power generation;
- Ehattesaht First Nation – $500,000 to purchase equity in a run-of-river hydroelectricity plant, enabling the Nation to purchase additional units and reduce debt;
- West Moberly Frist Nation – $150,000 to help fund a biomass conversion project to heat the Twin Sister Native Plants Nursery;
- Tsilhqot’in National Government – $300,000 to support the redevelopment of an industrial brownfield into a solar farm;
- Homalco First Nation – $140,000 to implement a community energy plan that will introduce efficiency upgrades to homes and community buildings; and
- Hesquiaht First Nations – $500,000 for construction of a hydropower plant to reduce the use of diesel generators.
The FNCEBF also provided a combined $250,000 in funding to seven B.C. First Nations to support clean-energy strategy and planning.
Applications for the next FNCEBF intake will be accepted until the end of May 2019.
Chief Roxanne Lindley, Westbank First Nation –
“The Sensisyusten school solar installation is an important pilot project for Westbank First Nation to demonstrate successful clean energy in our community core and to continue to build upon that success with future renewable projects. Our community supports innovative projects like using the space on our school to harness the energy of the sun for electricity. Having support of the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund was helpful in finding the resources to make that happen.”
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“First Nations are moving forward with greener alternatives, such as solar, in meeting their energy needs. This work is an important part of our CleanBC strategy and supports self-determination. All of us in every area of the province have an important part to play in putting B.C. on a path that powers our future with clean, renewable energy and reduces air pollution.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“Whether solar, wind or other clean-energy sources, the replacement of diesel generation with clean energy through these projects will help us use less fossil fuels while generating new economic activity, new jobs and building our clean economy. It’s important that the opportunities of our CleanBC plan are accessible to all British Columbians. That’s how rural and Indigenous communities can share in a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future.”
Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources –
“The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund helps to bring ideas, vision and innovation to reality to meet CleanBC goals. By transitioning to cleaner electricity options, Indigenous communities can become more energy efficient while creating local jobs and economic opportunities.”
- The FNCEBF budget for 2019-20 is approximately $7.74 million.
- Since 2010, more than 110 First Nations have benefited from more than $10 million in capacity and equity funding.
- The B.C. FNCEBF provides equity funding to First Nations up to $500,000 for clean-energy projects, up to $150,000 in equity funding toward community energy projects (energy efficiency, demand-side management and small fuel-switching projects) and capacity funding up to $50,000. Capacity funding supports community energy planning, feasibility studies for developing clean-energy projects or engagement with private-sector clean-energy project proponents.
Provincewide news release and backgrounder information: http://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019IRR0004-000382
Westbank First Nation: https://www.wfn.ca/
First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund: http://ow.ly/JPz530apMVd