Yukon MP Larry Bagnell announced Tuesday the federal government is spending $5.4 million on five clean-energy projects across the Yukon.
“It’s a very exciting day; it’s another great milestone in a clean energy future for the Yukon,” Bagnell told a press conference held at the Yukon Conservation Society’s offices.
He noted that the world has two crisis happening now: the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
Because of the Yukon’s response to the pandemic, Bagnell said, it has allowed “us, unlike the rest of the world, to continue our energy on the other crisis, climate change.”
Bagnell said it is incredible how Yukon First Nations have really led the way in reducing fossil fuels in their communities.
“Climate change affects us more than twice as the rest of the world, so we have to be leaders on this problem,” said Bagnell.
“One of the ways we are doing that is a six-year, $220 million fund to support clean energy projects, promote energy efficiency, and build skills and capacity in remote rural and First Nation communities.
“That is why I am pleased to announce today, on behalf of the minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan, that our government is supporting five community-led projects across Yukon with federal investments totalling $5.4 million.”
The five projects receiving funding are:
• The conservation society, which will receive $1.6 million to help evaluate the technical feasibility and the customer acceptance of utility controlled electric thermal storage heaters;
• the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) will receive $2.1 million to install a biomass district heating system which should replace electric fossil fuel heating systems within five of its community buildings;
• the Teslin Tlingit Council will receive $800,000 to construct a biomass heating system for eight new duplexes, totalling 16 units;
• the Yukon government will receive $574,000 to work with participating territorial First Nations to assess capacity gaps that can delay new clean energy projects and support community development through the best practices to meet their needs; and
• the Kluane First Nation will receive $345,900 to develop a forest resources management plan to meet its current and future biomass needs.
Bagnell said these five investments will help create a clean energy future, support economic opportunities, and make Canada a global leader in this century of clean growth.
Over the past decade, said Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai, the Yukon government has been working to establish strong government-to-government co-operation with Yukon First Nations on energy projects.
“Thanks to these relationships, we’ve been able to successfully support Yukon First Nation governments in developing community-based energy plans, implementing renewable energy projects, investing in the use of biomass as a heating source, and improving the energy efficiency of our local buildings,” said Pillai.
Since 2015, he added, Yukon First Nations have completed more than 100 energy-related projects in collaboration with the government.
“This is a lot of success, but I think we all know there needs to be more,” said Pillai.
“That’s why we’ve been working to improve our to ability provide and support for First Nation energy projects.”
The government is currently working with the CTFN, Champagne-Aishihik First Nation, Liard First Nation, Teslin Tlingit Council, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and White River First Nation to evaluate capacity gaps hampering the implementation of energy projects within each of these communities.
Coral Voss, the conservation society’s executive director, said the $1.6 million in funding to evaluate the technical feasibility as well as the customer acceptance of utility-controlled electric thermal storage heaters, is a step forward in quickening the efforts to reduce the territory’s need for diesel and natural gas.
“This project will accelerate the territory’s efforts to reduce our reliance on diesel and natural gas and improve Yukon Energy’s independence and build a renewable-powered future for future generations of Yukoners.
Kluane First Nation Chief Bob Dickson said the forest resources project allows his First Nation to self-govern in a planned and measured way.
“This project is in response to serious challenges associated with forestry management, including the need for reliable feedstock for the community biomass boilers,” said Dickson.
“There are many benefits to biomass systems, including support for our traditional economy. People can get out and foster their traditional use of the land.”