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North Coast First Nations get $4 million to transition off diesel energy

First round of funding in a new three-year program
Gitga’at First Nation is one of three First Nations communities to receive funding from the province’s Community Energy Diesel Reduction to support clean energy projects in January 2023.

Three North Coast communities are moving away from diesel energy after receiving more than $4 million to fund alternative-energy projects, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation announced Jan. 16.

In total, the province’s Community Energy Diesel Reduction (CEDR) program gave 12 First Nations communities across B.C. more than $7 million as part of a CleanBC initiative.

The goal of the CEDR program is to reduce diesel consumption for power generation in remote communities by 80 per cent by 2030, Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation stated in the press release about the announcement Jan. 16.

Gitga’at First Nation was awarded $2 million for pre-construction and construction activities for a run-of-lake 948-kilowatt hydroelectric generation facility, a press release stated.

“The Clean BC-CEDR program is a significant improvement in government support for remote First Nations communities,” David Benton, the clean energy lead at Gitga’at First Nation in Hartley Bay said.

The proposed hydroelectric generation facility aims to reduce 95 per cent of electricity production from diesel.

“Today, it is apparent that senior governments are serious about diesel reduction for electricity generation. They have structured their programs with staff to assist in preparing application support materials, completing applications and navigating multiple funding programs across governments and departments. Increasing our capacity and the moral support is a game changer,” Benton said.

On Haida Gwaii, Skidegate Band Council was given $2 million to put towards a solar farm for the island’s northern grid.

Tll Yahda Energy LP is a collaboration between the Skidegate Band Council, Old Masset Village Council and the Council of the Haida Nation. It will include battery storage and is expected to displace almost nine per cent of the north grid’s diesel consumption.

In May of 2022, the solar farm project received more than $3 million through the CleanBC Communities Fund.

Also, on Haida Gwaii, Old Masset Village Council received $40,000 to update its Community Energy Plan. Part of the update process will include community engagement and analysis of the demand-side management.

The CEDR program is expected to give a total of $29 million over three years to reduce remote community’s reliance on diesel fuel.

READ MORE: Utility commission deliberates Gitga’at First Nation complaint against BC Hydro fee

READ MORE: More than $3 million received by Haida Gwaii solar energy farm

 Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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