Indigenous-owned company forging a new path toward renewable energy in Inuvik

·5 min read

INUVIK, NT, Aug. 15, 2022 /CNW/ - A new solar project in Inuvik is helping to advance Canada's transition to a low-carbon future while increasing the amount of electricity generated from renewables, reducing pollution and creating jobs in the Beaufort Delta Region.

Nihtat Energy Ltd., a northern Indigenous-owned and operated company, is developing a 1-megawatt solar farm on a brownfield site in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The project is expected to displace 434,000 litres of fossil fuel and reduce 380,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This will improve local air quality and save the community $1 million in diesel costs per year.

In addition, the project is generating financial and social benefits for the Nihtat Gwich'in Council and Gwich'in community members through the creation of six construction jobs and four part-time operation jobs while facilitating training and capacity-building opportunities for local, Indigenous-owned businesses. Construction of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Inuvik currently consumes the most diesel for heat and power in the Northwest Territories. This project builds on the success of several other solar initiatives in Inuvik developed by Nihtat Energy Ltd., including those providing power to the Northmart, Solar Residential Program, Mackenzie Hotel and Inuvik Satellite Station Facility—all of which are contributing to reducing Inuvik's reliance on diesel.

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, announced today that Canada's new Clean Energy for Indigenous and Remote Communities Hub has invested a total of $5.586 million to help advance the Inuvik 1-Megawatt Solar Project, including $1 million from Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity Program (Northern REACHE), $4.189 million from Natural Resources Canada's Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program, and $397,000 from Natural Resource Canada's Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative.

While in Inuvik, Minister Vandal visited with Nihtat Energy Ltd. president Grant Sullivan and toured several other solar projects in the area.

Many communities in the North and Arctic continue to rely on diesel for electricity and heat, which is costly, polluting, and contributes to climate change. Canada's newly launched Clean Energy for Indigenous Communities Hub supports Indigenous and Northern communities in transitioning away from diesel fuel for electricity and heating through energy efficiency initiatives and through support and funding for renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydroelectricity, and biomass heating.

Quotes

"Indigenous and northern communities are seeing the impacts of climate change first-hand and are developing locally led, innovative solutions that work for them. This project will play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while bringing jobs to the region. Projects like this will help Canada meet its climate objectives, and, more importantly, serve as the bedrock for resilient and thriving northern communities. This is only possible through the leadership and determination of organizations such as Nihtat Energy Ltd. and our government is continuing its support for this important project for the community."

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

"To lower emissions and fight climate change, we know that communities in all parts of Canada—especially Indigenous, rural, and remote communities—need greater access to affordable clean energy. This is why the federal government is pleased to support projects like Nihtat Energy's solar farm in Inuvik. This project will not only reduce reliance on diesel fuel and help sustain a healthier and more resilient community, but it will also create good, sustainable jobs and spur the development of a local low-carbon economy."

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources

"This project demonstrates the value of developing collaborative approaches to project planning and development in remote communities, which include local project developers and the utility. Throughout the planning process, NEL and NTPC worked together closely to ensure the project was developed in a manner that would maintain safe and reliable service and also reduce GHG emissions on the Inuvik grid. This joint effort will result in enhanced energy security for the residents of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, and ensure that the community will have a meaningful, ongoing role in mitigating the impacts of climate change."

Grant Sullivan, CEO, Nihtat Energy Ltd.

Quick facts

  • Prior to today's announcement, the Government of Canada provided $1.7 million in funding to Nihtat Energy Ltd. through Northern REACHE and Natural Resources Canada's Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities Program for several solar projects in the Inuvik region, including the Northmart, Solar Residential Program, Mackenzie Hotel and Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.

  • $1.6 million was also provided by Natural Resources Canada's Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative for the Inuvik Solar Project, previously announced in January 2021 and June 2022.

  • Canada's Strengthened Climate Plan invested $300 million over five years to ensure that rural, remote and Indigenous communities that currently rely on diesel have the opportunity to be powered by clean, reliable energy by 2030.

  • Building on these investments, Budget 2021 provided $40.4 million over three years, starting in 2021–22, to support the feasibility and planning of hydroelectricity and grid interconnection projects in the North to help communities transition to clean energy and reduce their reliance on diesel.

Associated links

Indigenous-Led Solar Energy Project Wins Prize Funding to Implement a Community Clean Energy Project in NWT

Clean energy in Indigenous, rural and remote communities - Canada.ca

Northern REACHE Program

Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy - Canada.ca

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SOURCE Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

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