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St. Mary’s Band biomass project gets extra fundsPosted: July 12, 2012

The St. Mary’s Indian Band will benefit from the fourth round of funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund with equity funding of $200,000.

These funds will support the construction and operation of a biomass thermal heating system.

The system will initially hook up two buildings with future plans to hook up the entire village.

The project will remove the use of natural gas and decrease thermal energy payments to users.

The St. Mary’s Indian Band has over 5,000 hectares of dense conifer forest and proposes to supply the heating system with waste-wood chips. It will also provide the band with an opportunity to receive revenue through wood-chip delivery.

“Biomass thermal heating systems are particularly advantageous to people in our region. Here we are able to make use of poor quality wood that is unfit for lumber and keep people warm at the same time. I wish the St. Mary’s Indian Band every success with this project,” stated Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett.

St Mary’s Indian Band Chief Cheryl Casimer said she is thrilled with the funding support.

“When Bill first gave me the call I wasn’t sure what to expect, but when I learned we were granted the full amount we requested I was thrilled. Today is a really great day for the St. Mary’s Band. Now we can move forward with some of the more detailed work and get the system in place. We’re really grateful the Province is supporting this initiative, helping us leave a smaller footprint on our land,” she said.

Clean energy is a wave toward the future, said Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

“The range and quality of applications to the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund underlines First Nations’ willingness to embrace clean energy. These projects provide greener sources of power for their communities and create economic opportunities that will benefit all British Columbians,” she said.

Including the most recent May 2012 intake, the fund has provided almost $2.5 million to 53 Aboriginal communities across B.C. to support First Nations participation in the clean energy sector.

This funding is from the fourth call for applications. The next intake of applications closes at the end of September 2012.

The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund promotes increased First Nation participation in the clean energy sector through:

Revenue-sharing from eligible clean energy projects based on revenues derived from water rentals and land rents;

Equity funding of up to $500,000 for First Nations to invest in clean energy projects and help communities attract further investment; and

Capacity development funding of up to $50,000 to support First Nations with community energy planning, feasibility studies or engagement with private sector proponents of clean energy projects.

A Community Energy Plan is the initial step for a community to establish energy objectives, develop an overview of the community’s current and projected energy demand, and identify viable energy efficiency and clean energy development opportunities to pursue.

The First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund was announced as part of the Clean Energy Act in 2010 and was created to support First Nations and new power projects with an initial contribution of $5 million from B.C. A percentage of land and water rentals generated by eligible projects will be returned to the fund with the goal of the fund becoming completely self-revenue generating in the future.

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