First Nations Announce Over $25 Million in New Renewable Energy Investments to Decarbonize Their Coastal Communities

The Kitasoo/Xai’xias Nation’s main community is located in Klemtu on B.C.’s Central Coast. Photo by Brodie Guy.

Coast Funds, Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation, Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, and the Province of British Columbia announced over $25 million in new First Nations’ investments to transition coastal communities from dependence on fossil fuel-powered electricity to sustainable, locally powered renewable energy systems, eliminating over 175,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

These First Nations’ investments are financed with $7.9 million from the Renewable Energy for Remote Communities program, launched under a partnership between Coast Funds and the Province of B.C. The Renewable Energy for Remote Communities program is a key component of the Province’s CleanBC plan. By 2030, the Province aims to reduce province-wide diesel consumption for generating electricity in remote communities by 80% under CleanBC.

“Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w and Kitasoo/Xai’xais have sustainably cared for their unceded lands and waters for thousands of years,” stated Huux̱ Percy Crosby, Chair of Coast Funds. “The renewable energy investments we’re proud to announce today are a testament to these sovereign Nations’ leadership in stewarding and safeguarding their territories, demonstrating a pathway to sustainability for all communities in British Columbia and around the world. We are grateful for our strong relationships with these Nations and our partnership with the Province of B.C. to empower these investments under CleanBC.”

By moving forward with these major renewable energy investments, Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation and Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation are reclaiming their energy sovereignty and increasing community resilience in their communities: U’kwanalis (Kingcome Inlet) and Klemtu (Swindle Island). Through these projects, the Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w and Kitasoo/Xai’xais peoples reduce the transportation of fossil fuels along the B.C. coast, decreasing the threat of spills in their unceded territories on the Pacific Coast of Canada, a region that is renowned for its globally significant ecological and cultural importance.

Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation:
Padakus Cree
k 350kW Hydropower Facility Development

Beginning in spring 2021, Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation will initiate the construction of a new hydropower facility for their village of U’kwanalis located on Gwa’yi (Kingcome River) in Kingcome Inlet, northeast of Broughton Island. 95 Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w people currently call U’kwanalis home, a community that has been dependent on diesel to generate its electricity for over 20 years. Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation’s new investment announced today is expected to result in a 97% reduction in diesel consumption with a reduction of 30,200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the operating life of the hydropower facility. Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w will further invest in new employment and training opportunities throughout the construction of the new facility and its ongoing operations.

“Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w have been striving to return to renewable energy sources since we first began depending on diesel-generated electricity in the 1990s,” said Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w Chief Willie Moon. “We look forward to returning to a clean energy source to power our community and appreciate the financial support provided by Coast Funds and the Province to construct our Padakus Hydropower Project.”

Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation’s community, U’kwanalis, is located on Gwa’yi (Kingcome River) on the mainland coast, northeast of Broughton Island, in the coastal fjords of British Columbia, Canada. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation:
Klemtu Hydropower Facility — 1.7MW Modernization and Expansion

Beginning this summer, Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation will expand and modernize their existing hydropower facility in Klemtu, a community with 300 full-time residents located on Swindle Island. Kitasoo/Xai’xais have owned and operated the hydropower facility located at Baron Lake for the past 40 years. With this new investment, Kitasoo/Xai’xais will eliminate the community’s future dependency on costly fossil fuel-powered electricity and will increase electrical power generation, spurring new investments in housing and economic development opportunities that strengthen sustainability and human well-being in Klemtu. Kitasoo/Xai’xais will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Klemtu by an estimated 145,966 tonnes over the hydropower facility’s operating life. Kitasoo/Xai’xais will further invest in new employment and training opportunities in the community by hiring local people for its ongoing operations.

“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, a larger water treatment facility, a new community hall, and a new subdivision,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais Chief Councillor Roxanne Robinson. “We are proud to be able to transition into a greener, more environmentally friendly community and look forward to the new opportunities that this project will bring to our community.”

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation’s community, Klemtu, is located on Swindle Island in Finlayson Channel, approximately 219 kilometres north of Vancouver Island in the coastal fjords of British Columbia, Canada. Image courtesy of Google Earth.

These investments are financed with contributions from the Province of British Columbia through a partnership with Coast Funds, who is leading efforts to support First Nations’ self-determined efforts to decarbonize community energy systems throughout the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii under the Renewable Energy for Remote Communities program.

“The goal of our investment is to help transition coastal communities from dependence on diesel fuel for electricity,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “Using B.C.’s abundant supply of clean, renewable hydro-electricity is our sustainable path towards reducing greenhouse gases and improving health and comfort in our remote communities.”

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About Coast Funds

Coast Funds is a globally recognized model of Indigenous-led, permanent conservation finance that invests to strengthen the well-being of First Nations and the ecological integrity of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii regions of British Columbia, Canada. Founded with $118 million in 2007, Coast Funds is a partnership of private foundations and government. As of June 2020, Coast Funds has approved $100.7 million towards 395 conservation and sustainable development projects. For more information, visit: coastfunds.ca

About CleanBC

Renewable Energy for Remote Communities is a key component of the Remote Communities Clean Energy Strategy, announced in the Province of British Columbia’s CleanBC plan. CleanBC contains both actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build the B.C. economy. The CleanBC plan was developed as a pathway to achieve the Province’s legislated climate targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by the year 2030, based on 2007 levels. For more information, visit: cleanbc.gov.bc.ca

Contacts:

Coast Funds
Brodie Guy
Executive Director
brodie@coastfunds.ca
T: 604-684-0223 ext 2

Dzawada̱ʼenux̱w First Nation
Chief Willie Moon
council.chair@kingcome.ca
T: 250-974-3013

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation
Chief Councillor Roxanne Robinson
chief@kitasooband.com
T: 250-839-1255

Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Media Relations
T: 250-952-0628