N.W.T. hydro communities to no longer receive funding for solar panels

The Arctic Energy Alliance has a nearly doubled budget with new government funding, and new directives about how that money should be spent.

Gov't also announces $9M over the next 4 years for the Arctic Energy Alliance

Solar panels in hydro communities, such as Yellowknife, will no longer be eligible for rebates. Instead, that rebate money will be diverted solely to communities that rely on diesel. (CBC)

The Arctic Energy Alliance has a nearly doubled budget with new government funding, and new directives about how that money should be spent.

The Northwest Territories government announced Thursday that the alliance, a not-for-profit organization that focuses on renewable energy, will receive $9.1 million over the next four years to help Northerners reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Three-quarters of that money comes from the federal government's Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund.

The government also announced it's phasing out funding to solar projects in communities that are connected to hydroelectricity.

Those communities include Yellowknife, Detah, Ndilo, Behchoko, Enterprise, Hay River, Fort Resolution and Fort Smith.

It really helps the smaller communities because they are totally reliant on diesel.- Eric Doig, with Polar Tech

The government will also focus on funding biomass projects territory-wide, according to a government news release.

'Solar guy' not worried

Eric Doig describes himself as the "solar guy" at Polar Tech.

He said the government is doing the right thing by diverting solar-power funding away from hydro communities.

"It really helps the smaller communities because they are totally reliant on diesel," he said.

"Now there will be more resources available to them [for] community-based programs, so it will be good."

Doig says Polar Tech's bottom line won't be affected by the change, because "most of [his] customers are off-grid anyway."

The Northwest Territories government says customers in hydro communities who already have already submitted applications to receive funding through its Alternative Energy Technologies Program are still eligible for money. The cut-off for applications was Nov. 19, according to Arctic Energy Alliance.

The territorial government wasn't available for an interview to confirm details of the funding changes.