$80M slated for 'low carbon' northern B.C. hydro expansion project

A project based in northern B.C. meant to increase the renewable energy supply in the Yukon is getting an $80 million boost. The project aims to help cut back on diesel generation in Yukon communities.

Project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from diesel generation in Yukon communities

The Atlin hydroelectric project, built in 2009, saves the community from burning more than 1 million litres of diesel fuel every year. The expansion project for it is promised to help further reduce the amount of diesel burned in Yukon communities. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

A project based in northern B.C. meant to increase the renewable energy supply in the Yukon is getting an $80 million boost.

On Wednesday, the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) announced the commitment in partnership with the Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership toward the Atlin Hydroelectricity Expansion project. 

The project, which is still in the technical review stage, is slated to expand the existing two-megawatt hydropower facility in Atlin, B.C., to a 10.5 megawatt facility, and export the additional power to Yukon's energy grid through a new transmission line. The expansion project comes with promises of local jobs.

The facility is owned and operated by the Taku River Tlingit First Nation's Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership. In a statement, Peter Kirby, the president of Tlingit Homeland Energy, said the project "will bring reliable and clean electricity to Yukon, while also providing economic development opportunities for local communities."

Many First Nation communities and municipalities across the Yukon rely on grid-level diesel generators for electricity in the winter.

The "low carbon, clean power" project in Atlin is hoped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from current diesel generation by about 29,500 tonnes annually by reducing the amount of diesel needed, a news release Wednesday said.

In April, the federal government committed $32.2 million in funding over the next two years for the project.

The CIB says its $80-million investment is the third commitment by the bank under the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Initiative.

Ehren Cory, CEO of CIB, said the bank's funding so far aims "to accelerate Indigenous infrastructure investments focused on decarbonizing remote communities in Canada."

The bank was launched in 2017 with the purpose of financially supporting revenue-generating infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships, but has been criticized for its usefulness and efficiency over the last couple of years.

With files from the Canadian Press