The federal government is putting $20 million toward a new program meant to reduce reliance on diesel power in remote Indigenous communities in Canada.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi made the announcement in Whitehorse, northwestern Canada on Wednesday.
“Through this program, we want to build a capacity of the communities to find local solutions that work for them instead of solutions that might be imposed by external organizations,” Sohi said.
A panel of Indigenous jurors will select up to 15 communities across Canada. Those communities will each receive up to $1.3 million to develop their local plan for over three years.
Sohi says there are more than 200 communities across Canada that apply for the funding because they rely on diesel power generation.
“We all know that diesel has a significant impact on the environment for the creation of greenhouse gas emissions, but diesel also has health impacts,” said Sohi.
Blair Hogan, president of Whitehorse-based Gunta Business Consulting, was a guest speaker at the announcement on Wednesday. His company has been involved in the Teslin Tlingit Council’s biomass heating plant which received federal funding in 2017.
“What about [Yukon] communities like Watson Lake, what about communities like Ross River? Those are the types of communities that really need to have some more of this support,” he said.
“It helps move those communities forward, and all the other communities across Canada that just have that need but haven’t had that ability.”
The federal government says the new program is in addition to $700 million already committed to help rural and remote communities get off diesel.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Arctic Canadian town learns lessons from Alaskan wind farm, CBC News
Finland: Finnish energy sector’s emissions dropping sharply: report, Yle News
Norway: The quest to turn Norway’s Arctic coast into Northern Europe’s wind power hub, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Italian firm to build giant wind farm in northwestern Russia, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden’s solar industry sees bright future despite shrinking subsidies, Radio Sweden
United States: Despite winter darkness, solar power might work better in rural Alaska than you’d expect, Alaska Dispatch News