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Old Chilcotin mill site to become solar farm

Premier John Horgan and Tsilqot'in Chief Joe Alphonse. Province of B.C. photo
Premier John Horgan and Tsilqot’in Chief Joe Alphonse. Province of B.C. photo

The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) is moving ahead with the redevelopment of an industrial site into a solar farm, supported by $300,000 from the province.

Funding is provided through B.C.’s First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund (FNCEBF), which supports Indigenous communities in their efforts to pursue clean-energy projects. The FNCEBF supports CleanBC, the Province’s plan to build a cleaner future that creates opportunities for all British Columbians, while protecting B.C.’s clean air, land and water.

“Since having our Aboriginal title recognized, we have been looking for diverse opportunities within our territory,” said Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot’in National Government Tribal Chair. “The development and operation of this solar farm is not only useful for the area, but also brings employment and training to our Nation. As a Nation, we have always said that to do business with us, you need to come through our doors and sit at the table in a meaningful way. The solar farm is a great example of that.”

TNG is developing a 1.25-megawatt-peak-solar photovoltaic project on a former sawmill site. When complete, it will be the first and largest solar farm fully built, owned and operated by a First Nation in B.C.

Construction started in October 2018 and is expected to be complete by summer 2019.

The 2018 First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund also provided funds to six other First Nations to prioritize clean-energy equity projects in their communities. A total of $1.94 million in additional funding was granted to:

* Dzawada’enuxw First Nation – $500,000 to create a hydropower project to reduce its reliance on diesel power generation;

* Ehattesaht First Nation – $500,000 to purchase equity in a run-of-river hydroelectricity plant, enabling the Nation to purchase additional units and reduce debt;

* West Moberly Frist Nation – $150,000 to help fund a biomass conversion project to heat the Twin Sister Native Plants Nursery;

* Westbank First Nation – $150,000 to build a rooftop solar farm to demonstrate the viability of clean energy;

* Homalco First Nation – $140,000 to implement a community energy plan that will introduce efficiency upgrades to homes and community buildings; and

The FNCEBF also provided a combined $250,000 in funding to seven B.C. First Nations to support clean-energy strategy and planning.

Applications for the next First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund intake will be accepted until the end of May 2019.