Two coastal B.C. First Nations investing $25 million in renewable energy projects

To get off diesel power, two off-grid communities developing hydro power

Between two coastal First Nations in B.C., $25 million will be invested into renewable energy, to help reduce dependence on diesel-powered electricity.

The Dzawada’enuxw First Nation in Kingcome Inlet, and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation in Klemtu will both develop hydropower electricity sources for their communities.

The funding is a mix of the First Nations’ own investments, private investors, and provincial funds earmarked for renewable energy projects in off-grid communities. The provincial investment makes up $7.9 million, which is managed by Coast Funds, an Indigenous-led investment fund.

There are 11 off-grid First Nations’ communities along B.C.’s coast, which are mostly reliant on diesel for electricity. It has long been a goal of these communities to reduce diesel dependence, and the NDP government has committed to meet that goal by 2030 through a program they’re calling the Renewable Energy for Remote Communities. Money will be announced each year, and managed by Coast Funds, who will work with the 11 First Nations to develop renewable energy projects. This year the province invested $7.9 million, all of which is going towards these two projects.

Dzawada’enuxw plans to build a 350 kilowatt hydropower facility, starting next spring. The remote community, located on an inlet on the mainland east of Vancouver Island, has been dependant on diesel for its energy for more than 20 years.

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation in Klemtu, on Swindle Island north of Bella Bella, will increase the capacity of the hydro dam they’ve operated for 40 years. More reliable electricity will help them transition away from fossil-fuel energy sources, as well as spur new investments in housing and economic development.

“This opportunity will provide security of power and cost savings for our community. As a result, we will be able to develop civil upgrades such as building a wastewater treatment plant, larger water treatment facility, a new community hall, and a new subdivision,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais Chief Councillor Roxanne Robinson.

Reducing diesel dependency will not only bring energy costs down, but will reduce the risk of diesel spills as the fuel is transported along the coast.

RELATED: Diesel spill reported near mouth of Dinan Bay on Haida Gwaii

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


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