B.C. contributes funding to First Nations’ clean energy initiatives

By on December 30, 2015
The traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation can be found on the west coast of central Vancouver Island and includesthe town of Tofino. It has natural boundaries of mountains and ocean, and is home to about 1,000 members. The territory is also a perfect location for the development of small, clean energy projects. Photo: Government of B.C. Flickr

The traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation can be found on the west coast of central Vancouver Island and includesthe town of Tofino. It has natural boundaries of
mountains and ocean, and is home to about 1,000 members. The territory is also a perfect location for the development of small, clean energy projects. Photo: Government of B.C. Flickr

DAWSON CREEK – The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) has announced this year’s round of funding for First Nations’ participation in the province’s clean energy sector.

Applications are accepted for the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF) until the end of January.

Over six million dollars has been provided by the B.C. government since 2011, to support FN initiatives on clean energy projects.

Through the FNCEBF, 116 First Nations communities have participated in the program by contributing to clean energy in the province.

In 2015, 14 First Nations communities shared a total of $1.358 million in investments through the program, with 39 clean energy projects among 31 First Nations initiated by year-end.

“First Nations are developing clean energy projects and energy plans that are providing positive results for their communities. These are the kind of projects that can reduce harmful emissions, strengthen local economies, and create well-paying jobs,” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

One such project is the Twin Sisters Native Plant Nursery in Chetwynd, which with the help of a $150,000 grant through the program are replacing the nursery’s propane heating system with biomass heating.

The Saulteau and Moberly Lake First Nations are implementing this process. The Nursery provides local native plant stock to the mining, gas and oil industries, who use the product to reclaim industrially developed land; an important step in restoring affected ecosystems back to their original health and productivity.

Using the fund from the FNCEBF, the upgraded biomass heating system—lower-cost and cleaner in comparison to propane—will heat the two existing greenhouses with the capacity to support two more as they are built.

“First Nations want more opportunities to power their communities and economies with responsible, reliable and affordable clean and renewable energy projects,” said Paul Kariya, executive director of the Clean Energy Association of British Columbia.

“The transformation is occurring such that the most significant natural resource sector for B.C. First Nations today is clean energy.”

This year, the fund has been expanded to include equity investments for the implementation of high-efficiency heating technologies.

Other examples of potential projects for funding through this program include small-scale wind or biomass technologies that will provide load displacement within communities.

Training, such as for draft proofing, ventilation and energy efficient home-building design and solar and installation may also be eligible for this funding.

“Supporting the participation of First Nations in developing new, clean energy resources, community energy plans and improving energy management and efficiency within their communities is a priority for government. Expanding funded programs to include the installation of high-efficiency heating technologies and clean energy training programs is another positive step forward,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines.

According to a MARR press release, $3.21 million of the FNCEBF comes from provincial water revenues and land rents.

For more information about the FNCEBF visit http://www.gov.bc.ca/arr/economic/fncebf.html or Clean Energy BC at https://www.cleanenergybc.org.

Stacy Thomas

news@northeastnews.ca

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