BC invests in First Nations to create a green-energy future

VANCOUVER - - Twelve more First Nations across British Columbia are one step closer to achieving clean-energy developments in their communities, thanks to investments through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund FNCEBF.

Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation John Rustad today announced the FNCEBF will support 10 capacity-building projects and two equity ventures in pursuit of clean-energy goals. He made the announcement in a speech today at the 11th annual Clean Energy BC conference in Vancouver.

The two equity projects, which each received an investment of $500,000, are shishálh Nation formerly Sechelt Indian Band and Sts'ailes First Nation formerly Chehalis First Nation.

Highlighting the conference theme of innovative partnerships, Rustad told the crowd about the success of revenue-sharing initiatives that continue to see First Nations becoming partners in B.C.'s economy.

He said the FNCEBF has proven very successful as a new tool to engage First Nations. Over the last three years, B.C. has invested in 95 First Nations clean-energy projects.

FNCEBF funding will enable the 12 First Nations announced today to achieve a wide range of clean-energy related projects, among them:

- A feasibility study by Lake Babine Nation will look at bringing a district biomass heating system using wood chips online.

- Okanagan Indian Band will use their funds to develop a community energy plan assessing solar, wind, biomass and hydropower potential in their traditional territory, as well as energy-saving opportunities.

- shishálh Nation will invest in building the 33-megawatt Narrows Inlet Hydro Project, in partnership with private investors and another First Nation.

Since 2011, the provincial government has invested more than $5.1 million to support clean-energy opportunities in over 80 Aboriginal communities across B.C., including wind energy, biomass and run-of-river hydroelectric power.

The clean-energy technology industry is one of the fastest growing industries in B.C., with more than 200 organizations, 68 per cent of which were formed in the past decade. Clean-energy technology is one of eight key sectors mentioned in the BC Jobs Plan.

The FNCEBF provides money for capacity-building in communities and investment in clean-energy infrastructure. The fund is also used for revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations on whose traditional territory a clean-energy project is built. B.C. has so far achieved three revenue-sharing agreements under the FNCEBF, with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, Squamish Nation and the Tahltan Nation.

Revenue-sharing from FNCEBF projects is based on sharing tax revenues with local First Nations. By re-investing in First Nations' economic activities, B.C. is working to close the social and economic gaps between First Nations and other British Columbians, and build strong, sustainable economies at the community level. In neither case is sharing revenue a new cost to industry.


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