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News Release - Manitoba

December 6, 2013


Training Opportunities, Good Jobs, Lower Energy Bills for Families: Premier Selinger

Premier Greg Selinger, Chief David Crate of Fisher River Cree Nation and Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation gathered today to celebrate the expansion of a geothermal outfitting program to several communities that is creating jobs and training opportunities for local workers and lower energy bills for hundreds of families. 

The initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in the world, with local people trained and employed to install geothermal heating and cooling systems, Premier Selinger said.

“Training and good job opportunities are how we work together to build of prosperous communities,” said the premier.  “Once the work is done, the savings begin.  Families in Fisher River and Peguis are already saving on average more than $1,000 a year on their energy bills and many more will as we make this unique partnership bigger.”

The current retrofit project has already completed outfitting of more than 100 homes in the Peguis and Fisher River communities.  The project was spearheaded by Aki Energy, a new social enterprise created by Building Urban Industries for Local Development (BUILD), the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Green Communities Canada, and the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance. 

The premier said a feasibility study is underway to expand the operation to four new communities.

“We were pleased to see the recent throne speech highlight our plans to expand to six from two First Nations next year,” said Darcy Wood, executive director of Aki Energy.  “We are rapidly growing green economies.”

Wood said that 73 kilometres of pipe were installed by the First Nation construction companies and the $1.6 million in capital will be repaid out of the bill reductions over a 20-year period. 

This project is a direct result of the June 2012 Energy Savings Act and the creation of Manitoba Hydro’s Pay As You Save (PAYS) financing program.  Manitoba Hydro worked with Peguis First Nation and Fisher River Cree Nation to provide financing to cover 100 per cent of the upfront costs of installation.  The communities will repay the financing through a small charge on the bill over the next 20 years.  The net utility bills are guaranteed to be lower as the reductions outweigh financing charges.  

“The PAYS financing program allowed us to install the geothermal without having to divert dollars from other important areas like housing,” said Hudson.  “These are the types of tools we need to be successful.”

“This project provides an important opportunity for our people to be leaders in building the green economy,” said Crate.  “We are lowering utility bills and creating sustainable employment in our community.  It’s a win-win.”

“We’re already getting requests to install geothermal systems off-reserve,” said Kris Favel, geothermal project manager for Chief Peguis Construction.

More information about Aki Energy can be found at

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