Partnership brings clean energy to Lillooet Valley First Nations
November 12th, 2010
First communities hooked up through BC Hydro's Remote Community Electrification program
TIPELLA, B.C. – Four St'at'imc communities in the Lillooet Valley – Skatin, Baptiste Smith, Port Douglas and Tipella – are now connected to the BC Hydro grid system and will now receive clean and reliable power, thanks to a partnership between the St'at'imc Nation, the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and BC Hydro.
The completion of the grid connection project, initiated in the late 1990's, means approximately 330 residents in the four communities, located southeast of Pemberton in the Lillooet Valley, will no longer rely on diesel powered generators and can now focus on developing new economic opportunities that depend on cost effective and reliable clean energy supply. Importantly, connection to the BC Hydro grid and reducing reliance on diesel generators will result in an overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Electric services for the four First Nations communities will be provided by connecting to BC Hydro's electrical grid through 30 kilometres of new distribution lines and two new substations, located near Skatin, in the north, and Tipella, in the south. The communities will start receiving power November 22 and 23 following the final completion of the two substations.
"A century and a half ago, Port Douglas was the center of commerce in what was to become British Columbia. Until recently, the people in the Lillooet Valley were a forgotten people. That's changing now," said Douglas First Nations Chief Don Harris. "With the same service as other BC Hydro customers, we can now refocus our efforts to other important matters like improving our roads, getting phone and internet services, developing our communities, building a sustainable economy, and bringing our people back home."
The $30 million project was funded by a partnership between the St'at'imc Nation, BC Hydro's Remote Community Electrification program and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, as part of negotiations to resolve a historical grievance with the St'at'imc Nation.
"Ensuring that remote First Nation communities have access to a safe, reliable and affordable power source is critical to both health and safety of communities and the ability to develop economic opportunities for their members," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, on behalf of John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. "This connection to the electricity grid will make a real difference in the lives of the Douglas, Skatin and Samahquam people and provide them with access to a stable power source that most Canadians take for granted."
"This project is a great example of what can be accomplished when First Nations, British Columbia and Canada work together towards the common goal of advancing the social and economic potential of Aboriginal communities," said Barry Penner, former Minister of Environment and now Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. "The private sector also has a proven role to play in improving social conditions, as demonstrated by the recently completed Cloudworks renewable energy projects, which brought employment and training opportunities to this area, and a clean, zero-emission source of energy for our shared future. The progress we celebrate today will be remembered by the next generation of St'at'imc Nations membership."
BC Hydro's Remote Community Electrification Program provides remote communities in British Columbia with the opportunity to receive reliable and sustainable electrical services.
"With the completion of this project, we have taken an important step towards the resolution of the St'at'imc Nation's grievances," said BC Hydro Deputy CEO and Executive Vice President Bev Van Ruyven who attended the event today. "By following through on our commitment to provide clean, reliable power to all British Columbians, this project will help improve the quality of life in the region for generations. We are also proud of the jobs we've helped create for local residents and making the communities more viable for future economic development opportunities."
As part of BC Hydro's commitment to advancing economic opportunities for First Nations and Aboriginal businesses, BC Hydro awarded a $1.4 million tree clearing contract to In-SHUCK-ch Resource Management (IRM), a First Nations company who hired fallers, first aid attendants, flaggers and wood pile igniters from each of the four St'at'imc communities.
Community members also participated in environmental, wildlife and archaeological field studies that were required for the project.
For more information, please contact:
Chief Don Harris, Douglas First Nations
Minister Rich Coleman, conservation, Dave Cobb, Power Smart, Northwest Transmission Line, Interior to Lower Mainland, economic development, Mica Expansion Project , Greg Reimer, infrastructure, Mica, First Nations, Site C, impact benefit agreement, generation, clean energy, environmental review, BC Hydro, transmission lines, safety