Archived News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

March 17, 2015

Manitoba Government Expanding Geothermal Projects on First Nation Communities

Agreements mean Lower Bills, Jobs, Training for First Nations Communities: Minister Robinson

The Manitoba government, along with Manitoba Hydro and Aki Energy, today signed memorandum of understandings with the Peguis First Nation and the Fisher River First Nation that will see the retrofit of over 850 homes with geothermal technology over the next five years, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Eric Robinson, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro, announced today at the Alternative Energy and Food Sovereignty Conference in Winnipeg.

“This is exactly the type of positive changes the Manitoba government envisioned when we passed the Energy Savings Act in 2012,” Minister Robinson said.  “Because of the forward thinking of their chiefs and council, the citizens of these two communities will benefit from lower heating bills and increased employment for many years to come.”

Geothermal energy is a cost-effective renewable energy that is particularly suitable for electrically heated homes to reduce their costs.  Through the use of a geothermal heat pump, space heating and cooling is provided.  Like a refrigerator or air conditioner, these systems use a heat pump to transfer thermal energy between the ground and the building.

Today’s announcement will lead to over $13 million in geothermal retrofits, and in turn will generate $17 million in energy savings, Minister Robinson said.  He added the commitment will see the retrofit of 500 homes on the Fisher River Cree Nation and an additional 350 homes on the Peguis First Nation.  This announcement is in support of TomorrowNow – Manitoba’s Green Plan and the Manitoba Clean Energy Strategy.

“Our traditional economies were once centred on local economic activity that was good for the land and the people,” said Chief David Crate, the Fisher River Cree Nation.  “This is an excellent first step to us becoming energy independent.”

The Fisher River Cree Nation and the Peguis First Nation both have a history of living responsibly with as small an environmental footprint as possible, Minister Robinson said, adding they also have an excellent track record in promoting employment for its members both on and off the First Nations.

“Employment and economic development are what will make our First Nation successful,” said Chief Glen Hudson of Peguis First Nation.  “We will only be successful if we reduce the amount of money leaving our communities.”

Manitoba Hydro is a world leader in energy efficiency and an advocate for geothermal technology in non-natural gas serviced areas such as the Peguis First Nation and the Fisher River Cree Nation.  All Manitobans can take advantage of the cost savings associated with geothermal, under Manitoba Hydro’s ‘Pay-As-You-Save’ program.  While the capital investment for the geothermal installations is provided upfront by Manitoba Hydro, the entire cost is recouped through a monthly charge which is less than the monthly savings which occur from the retrofit.

“The Pay-As-You-Save program is quickly becoming an important component of our power smart suite of programs,” said Lloyd Kuczek, vice-president, Manitoba Hydro.  “We are proud to support these innovative programs.”

Another key partner in the First Nations’ geothermal initiative is Aki Energy, a First Nation non-profit social enterprise that provided the business development and training, in conjunction with the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance industry association, to both Peguis and Fisher River.

“We have geothermal pilot projects already established on the Sagkeeng First Nation and the Long Plains First Nation, and more soon to start in other areas,” said Darcy Wood, executive director of Aki Energy.  “These energy projects complement other successful programs that are improving the lives of First Nations communities.  That includes the popular Healthy Food market at the Garden Hill First Nation and a 13-acre farm which is also under development there.”

Today’s announcement was made at Aki Energy’s national conference on renewable energy and food sovereignty, which is showcasing heat energy options of geothermal, solar thermal and biomass heat along with alternative power and local food projects that benefit indigenous people across Canada.

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