Clean energy program aims to help shift remote Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation community to renewable energy sources

The First Nation community of Klemtu is transitioning to renewable energy for future sustainability.

The remote community Klemtu, home of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, is joining a new provincial government program to help them transition from diesel to clean energy electricity to work towards better future sustainability.

As the community is only accessible by boat or plane, it currently relies in part on diesel-generated electricity, which impacts the sustainability of the environment and makes it subject to fuel price fluctuations and high operational costs.

The goal, according to Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources, is to “reduce province-wide diesel consumption for generating electricity in remote communities by 80% by 2030.”

“By upgrading the existing facility in Klemtu,” Ralston said, “we are using B.C.’s abundant supply of clean renewable hydroelectricity and helping remote communities reduce climate pollution.”

The provincial program is called Renewable Energy for Remote Communities (RERC), and is providing $4.6 million for the 1.7 MW Hydropower Facility Modernization and Expansion project, which will modernize the existing Baron Lake hydroelectric power facility near Klemtu.

“This opportunity will provide security of power and cost savings for our community,” Kitasoo/Xai’xais Chief Councillor Roxanne Robinson said. “As a result, we will be able to develop civil upgrades, such as building a wastewater treatment plant, larger water treatment facility, a new community hall and a new subdivision.”

The Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation clean-energy project is one of four to be funded to date under the RERC program. The other three include the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation village in Kingcome Inlet, the Hesquiaht First Nation community in Clayoquot Sound, and the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation community in the Chilcotin.

Minister Ralston said the communities were chosen by a selection committee through an application process, with six considerations, including financial and community need. He said there are 22 top diesel emitting communities that are included in the plan to reduce diesel emissions going forward.

Work is expected to begin this summer. There is no explicit end date, but the projects must be completed before 2022.

The project will also be beneficial to the community through “greater economic and energy security for Klemtu, as well as important job opportunities for people in the community,” said Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast. The Klemtu project will employ eight direct full-time temporary jobs for local residents during the construction phase, and two permanent part-time jobs during the operations phase, according to RERC.

“The Kitasoo/Xai’ Xais are strong stewards of the land and waters of their territories and operating their community on a cleaner, more reliable energy source has been a goal for some time,” she added.

“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,” Robinson said.

The RERC program is a part of CleanBC, working to help implement climate action to meet B.C.’s emission targets.

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