Dreams of clean-energy in the North are much closer to realization today after the federal government announced a massive cash injection for biomass, solar and other green-energy projects Sept. 22 at the Nihtat Gwich’in Building.

Speaking on behalf of Natural Resources minister Seamus O’Regan, Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod committed over $8 million in funding for green technology to further Canada’s commitment to get Indigenous communities off diesel power by 2030.

Town of Inuvik Mayor Natasha Kulikowski, Nihtat Energy Ltd. Chief Robert Charlie-Tetlichi, NWT MLA Michael McLeod, Délı̨nę Coun. Leonard Kenny and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation director of innovation and science Jenn Parrott were all smiles after an announcement of nearly $8 million from the federal government to go towards biomass heaters, solar power systems and energy literacy Sept. 22.

“Economic prosperity and environmental protection go hand-in-hand,” said McLeod. “Green energy is central to all our efforts — it has to be. Energy use accounts for 80 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“The impact of those emissions are being felt probably the most here in the North.”

Nihtat Energy Ltd., the Town of Inuvik, Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government and Tulita Land Corporation all received funding to expand their green energy capacity. On top of that, the Arctic Energy Alliance received $797,000 and Inuvialuit Regional Corporation received $184,000 to promote energy literacy and capacity throughout the Delta.

With Nihtat Energy already having two biomass generators already installed, one at Mike Zubko Airport’s fire hall and the other at the maintenance garage, the project is already well underway. Four more generators are expected to be in place by 2021 and further efforts to determine the capacity for renewable energy in Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson, at a total cost of $2.25 million.

Meanwhile, the town of Inuvik is getting $1.7 million to install a biomass heating system to replace the current diesel boilers and provide additional freeze protection to the town’s reservoir. Mayor Natasha Kulikowski said the new system would be an important milestone in the town’s efforts to get away from diesel power.

“This aligns with our community energy plan,” she said. “(It) signifies another important step that will strengthen the town’s ability to create a holistic water distribution system while promoting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases.”

Tulita Land Corporation received $2.6 million to install biomass boilers to heat seven of its municipal buildings and to establish an economy around them using waste-lumber to create wood chips to fuel the boilers.

Délı̨nę Got’ı̨nę Government also was granted $500,000 to begin a community energy plan of their own, which will include a 30 kilowatt/hour solar power system for their Grey Goose Lodge hotel and give the community a means to counter their increasingly unreliable ice road.

“A few years ago we had an 18-wheeler fuel truck that fell through the ice on Great Bear Lake, which is very close to our community,” said Délı̨nę Coun. Leonard Kenny, who credited Tim Tutcho for getting the ball rolling on Délı̨nę’s project. “We have to start looking at other alternatives to heat our community. This is one of the projects that we’ve done that will be very helpful.”

Biomass is the burning of wood and other biological waste products and using the hot gases produced the combustion to heat water in a home. Excess heat is stored in a thermal tank or buffer vessel for later use. With modern home heating systems the boilers can achieve up to an 80 per cent efficiency boost over traditional fossil fuel boilers.

All the announced green infrastructure is expected to be in place by 2022.

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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