A new solar energy project will provide the Ulkatcho First Nation in British Columbia with clean energy after a combined investment of $15,841,000 from the federal and provincial governments.

This project is set to reduce the need for diesel generation in the remote community by about 64% – equal to a reduction of 1.1 million litres of diesel a year – and it is estimated to be the largest off-grid solar project in Canada.

“Switching from diesel fuel to renewable energy to heat your home or power your lights is a challenge if you live in a remote or isolated community,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “In partnership with the federal government and the Ulkatcho First Nation, clean-energy projects like this one will support many First Nations communities to improve air quality, reduce carbon-related pollution and increase their energy independence. This is an important part of reconciliation and of our work to ensure we all have a cleaner, better future — no matter where we live in our beautiful province.”

Located in Anahim Lake in Central B.C., the Ulkatcho First Nation’s power is currently 100 per cent diesel generated. After scientific studies and a business case were completed, it was determined that solar power was the best alternative energy solution for the community.

“The signing of the Community Electricity Purchase Agreement between the Ulkatcho Energy Corporation and BC Hydro for the Anahim Lake Solar Farm marks a momentous occasion for the Ulkatcho First Nation in championing energy sovereignty and sustainable economic development through clean, renewable power,” said Chief Lynda Price, JD. “Our Ulkatcho Group of Companies’ strength is in the ability to forge partnerships for the future, and we are proud to take this step towards community prosperity and a better quality of life for our Nation’s members.”

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To transition the community to clean energy, a solar power plant will be built by Ulkatcho Energy Corporation south of Anahim Lake. The project also includes the construction of new access roads and paths, control and monitoring of the new facility, fire management, security, signage, and other related assets. BC Hydro will buy the solar energy through a Community Electricity Purchase Agreement and integrate the energy into its microgrid through a line interconnection and battery energy storage system to then serve the community.

“The Anahim Lake Solar Farm is just one example of how BC Hydro is working with First Nations to promote renewable energy, advance electrification, and form long-term partnerships,” says Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s president and CEO. “It’s an important part of BC Hydro’s commitment to improve accessibility of clean, reliable, and affordable power to Indigenous Nations and communities in remote areas of B.C. This partnership lays the foundation for Indigenous participation in B.C.’s clean-energy sector and aims to not just promote sustainability, but also economic development and energy sovereignty for members of Ulkatcho First Nation.”

The federal government is investing $11,880,750 through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of British Columbia is investing $2,376,150.The Ulkatcho First Nation is contributing $818,300. And the Community Energy Diesel Reduction grant, which is facilitated by the BC New Relationship Trust, is contributing $765,800.

“As Canada strives towards its commitments to mitigate the effects of Climate Change, the Ulkatcho Energy Corporation sees this as an excellent opportunity – not only to diversify the activities of the Ulkatcho Group of Companies, but also play a critical role in ultimately displacing the use of diesel in the generation of clean electricity for Anahim Lake in particular and elsewhere. This is a model for meaningful Public-Private-Community Partnerships,” said Al-Nashir Jamal, chairman of the board for the Ulkatcho Group of Companies.

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Featured image: Chief Lynda Price and CEO of BC Hydro Chris O’Riley. Credit: Ulkatcho First Nation.

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