Indigenous leaders praise new energy program

Energy Minister and Dunvegan – Central Peace – Notley MLA Margaret McCuaig-Boyd speaks at the podium with Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips. Standing behind left-right, are First Nations Power Authority CEO Guy Lonechild, Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan, Treaty 8 Grand Chief Rupert Meneen, Metis Settlements General Council president Gerald Cunningham, Chiniki First Nation Chief Aaron Young and Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox.

Richard Froese

Local Indigenous leaders welcome a new energy program for Indigenous communities announced by the provincial government

Albertans will see new jobs, more private-sector investment and increased green power generation as the next phase of the Renewable Electricity Program focuses on partnerships with Indigenous communities, states a news release dated Feb. 5.

“We must build unique partnerships that create opportunity for our people, respect our role in decision-making and honour our responsibility to protect our environment,” says Metis Settlements General Council president Gerald Cunningham, of East Prairie Metis Settlement, east of High Prairie.

“The Government of Alberta’s Renewable Electricity Program has tremendous potential to do these things and to increase Indigenous participation in the green economy.

“Our relationship to our traditional lands and to our communities is one that is deeply rooted in our spirituality and in our culture.”

Treaty 8 also supports the program.

“Every day, Indigenous peoples see the effects of climate change first-hand,” Treaty 8 Grand Chief Rupert Meneen says.

“We need to stand up, be heard and take action on this issue because it impacts everyone.”

He says the current round of the Renewable Electricity Program supports Treaty 8 communities’ efforts to develop renewable projects.

“Working together, we can create a better life for everybody – Indigenous peoples and Albertans,” Meneen says.

The highly competitive opening round of the program attracted about $1 billion of private-sector investment in green power generation in Alberta.

Building off that momentum, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) is preparing to open the second and third series of competitions, which will add approximately 700 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power nearly 300,000 homes.

The second round of competition will see companies partner with Indigenous communities to provide 300 megawatts of renewable power.

Each bid will have a minimum Indigenous equity component, which can include an ownership stake in the project or land use agreement between the company and the community.

That will help create jobs and economic benefits in Indigenous communities and across Alberta.

“This is part of securing Alberta’s energy future,” says Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, MLA for Dunvegan – Central Peace – Notley.

“Indigenous communities have had a leading role in developing green energy on a smaller scale and I’m pleased this next round of the Renewable Electricity Program will help support larger, utility-scale projects while creating good jobs and economic benefits for Indigenous Albertans.”

Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan endorses the value of the program to communities.

“Indigenous communities have been at the forefront of developing micro-generation projects and training individuals for renewable energy jobs of the future,” Feehan says.

“Participating in the Renewable Electricity Program is the next logical step. “Taking part in this program will help create local jobs and enable Indigenous communities to emerge as leaders in a low-carbon economy.”

As Alberta’s electricity sector evolves, the Alberta government will continue a collaborative dialogue with Indigenous leaders on how best to support long-term Indigenous participation in the electricity sector and the Renewable Electricity Program.


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