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Feds deliver $13 million for First Nation clean energy, heating projects

Funds for biomass technologies, wood stove replacement among the community initiatives
Biomass Collection 1
Biomass collection (file photo)

Ottawa rolled out nearly $13 million for a number of forestry biomasss-related energy and heating projects in First Nation communities across Northern Ontario.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Patty Hajdu made the announcement in Thunder Bay for Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan.

The money is coming from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program, a six-year, $220-million program to reduce community reliance on diesel and replace it with renewable and energy efficient technology.

Whitesand First Nation's Sagatay Co-generation LP has engineering plans for a biomass cogeneration system with the $4,168,000 it received to reduce the northwestern Ontario community's dependence on diesel fuel for heat and electricity.

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Board member David Mackett said the adoption of low-carbon technologies can "transform and shape economic opportunity" in communities such as Whitesand.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation, based in Thunder Bay, is using $2,532,000 to install much-needed, high-efficiency woodstoves in six communities to reduce the power demand from community diesel generators.

"Over the next two years, 75 fully certified and code-compliant woodburning systems per year will be installed by locally trained community members according to Wood Energy Technology Transfer (WETT) standards," said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler.

Manitoulin Island's Wikwemikong Development Commission netted $2,452,750 toward the installation of pellet stoves, biomass boilers, wood pellet furnaces and wood pellet storage silos in Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, all part of the community's wood heating and infrastructure project.

"NRCAN is supporting Wiikwemkoong's vision to build a sustainable community and addresses our objective to reduce our ecological footprint," said commission general manager Mary Lynn Odjig. 

Askii Environmental received $1.67 million to install biomass heating systems in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation and Pikangikum First Nation in a remote part of northwestern Ontario.

"This 300-kilowatt wood chip boiler project is not only about clean energy and diesel reduction but also so much about capacity development," said Cara Sanders, principal of Askii Environmental.

"Each nation now has a team of five workers who are primarily youth working and learning in the multi-faceted wood gathering program. Each Nation now has a sawmill to make lumber in the community, chain saws to harvest for firewood and fuel for the boilers, and Pikangikum First Nation also has tools to fabricate value-added items such as sheds and furniture. It is hoped that Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug will have carpentry tools next year." she added.

Nipigon's Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (formerly known as Sand Point First Nation) is devoting $1,051,000 to replace the sawmill's diesel heat source with a biomass system and also to install biomass heating systems in three housing units in preparation for future biomass heating expansion.

"As chief of Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek, a community that is developing from the ground up, I believe that environmental and energy sustainability are critical pillars of our community's development," said Joe Ladouceur. 

"Our Biomass Project has allowed us to fully utilize our sawmill wood waste to heat our facility and to prepare our homes for the future conversion to a district biomass heating system."

Wahgoshig First Nation landed $983,000 to install a biomass heating system for the northeastern Ontario'scommunity firehall, the lands and resources office, community centre and community elder's residence.

Deputy Chief David Morris said the funding develop new local jobs, heats the community more efficiently and contributes toward "good stewardship over the land."