British Columbia

B.C. First Nation buys 5% stake in clean-energy projects worth $2.5B

A First Nation in northwest British Columbia says an investment in clean-energy projects worth more than $2.5 billion represents a historic move toward its economic independence.

Nation says investment represents a historic move towards its economic independence

AltaGas' 195-MW Forrest Kerr Hydroelectric Facility is seen in this undated handout photo. The Tahltan First Nation says it has signed a deal to buy into a trio of hydro projects in its territory in what it says is the largest ever renewable investment by a First Nation in British Columbia. (The Canadian Press/HO, AltaGas Ltd)

A First Nation in northwest British Columbia says an investment in clean-energy projects worth more than $2.5 billion represents a historic move toward its economic independence.

The Tahltan Nation announced Monday the purchase of a five per cent stake in three run-of-river hydro-electric projects located in its traditional territories, which include the communities of Iskut, Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek.

Tahltan Central Government President Chad Day said the deal marks a significant economic achievement for the nation as it will generate revenue and provide clean energy for decades.

The Tahltan purchased a portion of Northwest British Columbia Hydro Electric Facilities for more than $124 million from Axium Infrastructure Canada and Manulife Financial Corporation, Day said in a phone interview.

Three projects

The power-generating facilities include run-of-the-river projects, Forrest Kerr, McLymont Creek and Volcano Creek, which produce electricity sold to BC Hydro, the province's Crown-owned energy utility.

"All three projects have been up and running for multiple years. There's a 60-year water licence on these projects with BC Hydro, so there's about 57 years left," said Day, who expected the licences will be renewed once their terms expire.

He said the projects, located on the Iskut River, use the natural flow of the water and cause no environmental damage.

"These were projects that didn't require a dam or any major destruction to the environment," Day said.

The Tahltan Nation said in a statement its territory is home to three of B.C.'s 19 operating mines and represents about 25 per cent of current mining exploration activities in the province.

The nation said its participation in the run-of-river operations represents the largest clean-energy investment by a First Nation in B.C. history and one of the largest in Canada.

Statements released by Manulife Financial Corp., AltaGas Canada Inc., and Axium Infrastructure Canada Inc., said the companies look forward to a lengthy partnership with the Tahltan on clean energy.

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