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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2020EMPR0019-001084
June 18, 2020
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Province supporting Xeni Gwet’in First Nation transition to clean energy

WILLIAMS LAKE – The remote Xeni Gwet’in First Nation community in the Chilcotin is continuing the transition from diesel to clean energy and creating local jobs under the Province’s CleanBC plan.

The Province’s Renewable Energy for Remote Communities (RERC) program is providing $1.86 million for a transmission line to connect 28 homes to the Xeni Gwet’in community’s hybrid clean energy micro-grid, reducing diesel consumed for electricity generation by about 50,000 litres per year.

“Through CleanBC, we’re supporting remote communities across the province to make the switch from fossil fuels to clean, reliable and affordable hydroelectricity,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. “By using more clean energy in our homes and buildings, we’re helping people to save on energy costs and reduce climate pollution.”

The $16.5-million RERC program helps remote communities shift to renewable energy, moving away from polluting diesel generators to cleaner energy sources. The program, which is administered on behalf of the Province by Coast Funds and the Fraser Basin Council, is designed to complement other initiatives that assist remote communities as they undertake energy planning, increase energy efficiency and decarbonize their energy systems.

The Xeni Gwet’in First Nation clean energy project is one of four to be funded under the RERC program, and work is expected to begin in the coming year.

CleanBC is a pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. CleanBC was developed in collaboration with the BC Green Party caucus, and supports the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement to implement climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets. 

Quotes:

Chief Jimmy Lulua, Xeni Gwet'in First Nations Government –

"Xeni Gwet'in First Nations Government, a remote off-grid community located three hours from the nearest town, has been working on clean energy for the past 20 years. Our goal has always been to improve living standards for our people, as many still rely on gas/diesel generators and many don't have running water. The community has always supported achieving self-sufficiency with alternative energy sources. Many of these initiatives align with our teachings to leave things how they were or better, and moving from generators to clean energy catalyses the conditions for improved living spaces. 

“Xeni Gwet'ins’ living standards will improve with the completion of the underground line microgrid extension project, and we will continue to work with RERC to build a healthier British Columbia. We, as Xeni Gwet'ins, continue to be a role-model community to all First Nations communities and take pride in being a world-class model community.”

David Marshall, chief executive officer, Fraser Basin Council –

“The Fraser Basin Council is happy to be working with Xeni Gwet'in First Nations Government and the Province of British Columbia as they demonstrate how a small community in a remote area can make positive change for sustainability. Powering homes with diesel comes with a considerable price tag, depends on long-distance fuel transport and results in high emissions. The Xeni Gwet’in have transitioned to a hybrid solar-diesel system that incorporates a cleaner, cheaper and more reliable renewable power source and extends the microgrid to more people in the community.”

George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –

“By partnering with Indigenous leaders like Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, our government is working to support a cleaner, better future for people living in remote communities across the province. Through CleanBC, we’re working to advance reconciliation by ensuring Indigenous communities have access to clean energy, clean air and an improved environment for future generations.”

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“Working in partnership with Indigenous communities such as Xeni Gwet’in to develop and implement clean, renewable energy sources is making a positive difference to the local area and contributing to a cleaner, healthier province. For millennia, First Nations have cared for and sustained these lands. Reclaiming healthy lands and clean, fresh air are necessities that are long past due, and important parts of the CleanBC plan.”

Quick Facts:

  • Coast Funds is responsible for delivering the RERC program with First Nations located in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii regions. The Fraser Basin Council is responsible for delivering the RERC program with all other remote communities in B.C.
  • The RERC program is a key part of the Province’s Remote Community Energy Strategy, announced in the CleanBC Plan. The strategy targets the 22 largest diesel generating stations in B.C. and aims to reduce provincewide diesel consumption for generating electricity in remote communities by 80% by 2030.

Learn More:

Fraser Basin Council: www.fraserbasin.bc.ca  

Renewable Energy for Remote Communities: www.gov.bc.ca/renewable-energy-remote-communities

Xeni Gwet’in First Nation: www.xenigwetin.net/

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

 
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