The Huu-ay-aht First Nations are taking advantage of green technology to generate a new source of revenue for the community with the construction of a clean-energy power plant on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The Huu-ay-aht community received $500,000 in equity funding from the B.C. government’s First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund, to support construction of a five-megawatt, run-of-river hydroelectric project on the Sarita River. The project will be 100% community-owned.
“The Huu-ay-aht First Nations have seized on an opportunity to lead the way in clean, renewable energy that also provides financial diversification for the community,” said Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and MLA Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund is a tool that can be used to foster ingenuity and imagination, and I can’t think of a better example of seeing that put into practice than this project.”
The project is within the Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ private lands, and could generate 14.8 gigawatt hours of electricity, on average, per year, which is enough to power more than 1,300 homes. The construction phase of the project will create as many as 10 jobs in the community, while its maintenance and operation will create permanent jobs for a plant operator and manager.
The First Nation is negotiating an electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro to sell the power to the utility company. That agreement is expected to generate average annual gross revenue of more than $2 million, once the power plant is fully operational.
Once all Huu-ay-aht approvals are received, the full civil construction work on the power plant is expected to begin in the spring of 2019, with commercial operation expected in 2020.
“The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund has been an invaluable tool for our community. It first provided assistance to study the concept, and now provides equity investment in a project that will allow us to be more energy self-sufficient, while creating revenue that we can invest back into our community,” said Huu-ay-aht First Nations Chief Robert J. Dennis Sr.
The Huu-ay-aht received $40,000 capacity funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund in 2012 for project feasibility studies, and $10,000 in 2016 to support the completion of a ground survey for this project.
Applications for the next First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund intake will be accepted until the end of May 2018.
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