A new solar energy project will provide the Ulkatcho First Nation with clean energy after a combined investment of $15.841 million from the federal and provincial governments.

The project is set to reduce the need for diesel generation in the remote community by about 64 per cent – equal to a reduction of 1.1 million litres of diesel a year – and it is estimated to be the largest off-grid solar project in Canada.

Located in Anahim Lake in Central B.C., the Ulkatcho First Nation’s power is currently 100 per cent diesel generated. After scientific studies and a business case were completed, it was determined that solar power was the best alternative energy solution for the community.

“Switching from diesel fuel to renewable energy to heat your home or power your lights is a challenge if you live in a remote or isolated community. In partnership with the federal government and the Ulkatcho First Nation, clean-energy projects like this one will support many First Nations communities to improve air quality, reduce carbon-related pollution and increase their energy independence. This is an important part of reconciliation and of our work to ensure we all have a cleaner, better future — no matter where we live in our beautiful province,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

To transition the community to clean energy, a solar power plant will be built by Ulkatcho Energy Corporation south of Anahim Lake. The project also includes the construction of new access roads and paths, control and monitoring of the new facility, fire management, security, signage, and other related assets. BC Hydro will buy the solar energy through a Community Electricity Purchase Agreement and integrate the energy into its microgrid through a line interconnection and battery energy storage system to then serve the community.

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“The Anahim Lake Solar Farm is just one example of how BC Hydro is working with First Nations to promote renewable energy, advance electrification, and form long-term partnerships,” says Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s President and CEO. “It’s an important part of BC Hydro’s commitment to improve accessibility of clean, reliable, and affordable power to Indigenous Nations and communities in remote areas of B.C. This partnership lays the foundation for Indigenous participation in B.C.’s clean-energy sector and aims to not just promote sustainability, but also economic development and energy sovereignty for members of Ulkatcho First Nation,” said Chris O’Riley, President and CEO, BC Hydro.

The federal government is investing $11,880,750 through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The Government of British Columbia is investing $2,376,150.The Ulkatcho First Nation is contributing $818,300. And the Community Energy Diesel Reduction grant, which is facilitated by the BC New Relationship Trust, is contributing $765,800.

“As Canada strives towards its commitments to mitigate the effects of Climate Change, the Ulkatcho Energy Corporation sees this as an excellent opportunity – not only to diversify the activities of the Ulkatcho Group of Companies, but also play a critical role in ultimately displacing the use of diesel in the generation of clean electricity for Anahim Lake in particular and elsewhere. This is a model for meaningful Public-Private-Community Partnerships,” said Al-Nashir Jamal, Chairman of the Board, Ulkatcho Group of Companies.

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