The provincial government is granting the Fort Nelson First Nation $500,000 to continue developing its geothermal prospects in northeast B.C.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum announced the funding Aug. 17 for feasibility and engineering for a geothermal energy generation plant in the old Clarke Lake gas field. It granted exploration rights to the First Nation earlier this year.
“We are providing important funding to Indigenous communities throughout B.C. to develop projects that will help them achieve energy independence, support economic development and reduce reliance on diesel,” said Energy Minister Bruce Ralston in a statement.
Electricity in Fort Nelson is mostly gas-generated, or imported from Alberta, and the Clarke Lake field has been previously identified as a potential site for a geothermal power plant.
A report by Geoscience BC assessed a potential 15 MW geothermal project at two potential sites in the field, and in January the First Nation was granted resource rights to 25 parcels of land covering 6,800 hectares.
The field is 14 kilometres southeast of Fort Nelson, and has had more than 100 natural gas wells drilled into it. The Fort Nelson First Nation also received $1 million last year from Natural Resources Canada to assess the field’s potential.
The latest funding comes from the British Columbia Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative, a funding partnership between the province, federal government, and the New Relationship Trust, a First Nations non-profit group based in North Vancouver, and and which includes former Fort Nelson and Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan.
The Saulteau First Nation will also receive $500,000 for a wind generation project, the ministry said.
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