Archived News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 13, 2013

PROVINCE, HYDRO, FIRST NATIONS PARTNER TO CREATE JOBS AND SAVE POWER WITH GEOTHERMAL


100 Homes to be Converted to Geothermal Heating, Cooling this Summer using Pay-as-You-Save Financing

Innovation, Energy and Mines Minister Dave Chomiak, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, and Manitoba Hydro president Scott Thomson announced today that residents of the Peguis and Fisher River First Nations will be converting 100 homes in their communities from electric heat to geothermal heating and cooling this summer.

The project is led by Aki Energy Inc., a social enterprise created by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, BUILD Inc., Green Communities Canada and the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance.  Thirty members of the two communities have been trained to do the conversions, creating both jobs and new business opportunities for band-owned construction companies.

Aki Energy, an Ojibway word for earth, spearheaded the project at Fisher River and Peguis First Nations.  With the success of this project, Aki Energy plans to expand this program provincewide and will partner with four more Manitoba First Nations next year. 

“This project is the first of its kind in the world.  We’re creating green jobs, helping the environment and saving people money all at the same time,” said Premier Greg Selinger.  “Using Hydro’s innovative Pay‑as‑You‑Save financing, this program can be a template for other communities across the province.”

Manitoba Hydro will finance the upfront capital costs through the Pay-as-You-Save (PAYS) program and the First Nations will repay those costs using the monthly utility bill savings.  Savings are expected to exceed $90 a month per home from day one.  Hydro will provide additional program costs based on the value of the electricity saved on the export market.  Because it captures the differential temperature of the earth, geothermal is about three times more efficient than electric heating or cooling.

“Manitoba Hydro is pleased to be working with our community partners on this exciting initiative, said president and CEO Scott Thomson.  “With a growing population and growing economy, our capacity to supply Manitoba’s power needs will run out about 2022. That’s less than a decade. Manitoba Hydro has an obligation to its customers to prepare for the energy needs that are fast approaching. Doing nothing is not an option.”

Clifford Maynes, executive director, Green Communities Canada, commended Manitoba Hydro for developing PAYS financing. 

“This innovative financing tool has enabled these First Nations communities to overcome upfront barriers and unlock valuable long-term energy savings.  This is a model that should be repeated again and again across the country.”

Fisher River Chief David Crate said this project “proves that job creation and environmental enhancement can go hand in hand.”

“We’ve long wanted to see jobs created by lowering heating bills in our community,” said Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson.  “Hydro’s PAYS financing allows us to finally do it without having to divert funds from other initiatives.”

“Geothermal is a perfect fit for these communities,” said Darcy Wood, executive director, Aki Energy.  “First Nations have higher priorities than spending money on utility bills and all need more employment.  Aki plans to roll this approach out in First Nation communities across the province.”

Chomiak noted that increasing geothermal throughout rural Manitoba is one of the goals of Manitoba’s Clean Energy Strategy, which is available at: www.manitoba.ca/iem/energy/pdfs/energy_strategy_2012.pdf.

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