B.C announces $30M to help First Nations transition away from diesel power

The province of British Columbia is providing $30 million to remote First Nations to help them replace diesel power with more friendly renewable energy options.

The money is being provided under the Community Energy Diesel Reduction program (CEDR).

Eddy Adra, the CEO of Coast Funds, an Indigenous-led conservation group and partner of the program CEDR says the money will help communities develop their own strategies.

“The province essentially doubled its contribution to the program,” he said. “It’s going to help us deliver funds to the nations and to communities across British Columbia to develop their own energy plans and develop sustainable energy projects that meet their own local needs.”

B.C Premier David Eby made the announcement earlier this week at an annual conference of the First Nation Major Project Coalition. He said First Nations are taking the lead on carbon reduction.

“First Nations throughout B.C. are taking a leadership role in reducing carbon pollution, and our government is there to partner with them,” he said. “This new investment will help even more remote communities build and expand clean-energy projects that move our province away from diesel and toward a cleaner, brighter future.”

Last year, the Community Energy Diesel Reduction program was launched with $29 million from the province.

According to the province, there are 44 remote communities in the province and most are First Nations that rely on diesel generation for power.

CEDR is administered by a non-profit called New Relationship Trust. In 2022, it worked with 12 First Nations that were transitioning to cleaner and more efficient energy options in their first intake.

Sarah Powell, a senior associate from New Relationship Trust, says the program has many benefits including reducing greenhouse gases.

“The main benefit in transitioning from diesel is the reduction of GHG emissions; there is also another portion that people may not think about, it also reduces the transport of fossil fuels,” she said in an interview with APTN News. “

“Many of these communities rely on diesel to be trucked into their communities or coastal communities they get shipped there, which runs the risk of spills or fossil fuels that are burned during transport.”

Kitasoo and Gitga’at First Nations are upgrading or moving toward hydropower systems on the central coast.

Adra says the transition to more reliable energy will allow communities to improve their economic health.

“Having strong electrification infrastructure in communities supports bringing further economic development within your communities, decreasing brownouts and allowing people to home communities,” he said.

According to New Relationship Trust, the CEDR program currently has six years of funding and First Nation communities are leading their way in the energy transition programs.

Powell believes the nations will complete the projects on time.

“The timeline is mostly set by communities; different projects have different timelines, you know the creation of a community energy plan will be a lot shorter than building an entire hydroelectric dam, but yes, so far, all of the communities we funded will be completed by the time the program is done, “ she said.

“Some will be completed  by the end of this summer, and some will have a future date like 2026.”

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