However, even the Taltson project would not help many of the NWT’s smaller communities to move away from diesel.
The fund was announced by federal natural resources minister Amarjeet Sohi in Whitehorse on Wednesday.
“Diesel fuel, though reliable, has negative environmental, social and economic impacts in northern and remote communities,” read a federal government statement.
“Investing in clean energy to reduce reliance on diesel can support Indigenous communities leading the way to a clean energy future and makes a small but meaningful contribution to self-determination.”
The Indigenous Off-diesel Initiative will operate as follows:
Applications can be submitted by people in (or with “strong ties” to) remote, Indigenous communities that aren’t connected to the grid;
An all-Indigenous panel of jurors selects up to 15 communities “to receive hands-on support” and up to $1.3 million each in funding over three years;
After that, an unspecified number of “leading communities” will get two more years of funding to keep moving their project forward.
The territorial government is investing in a wind power project in Inuvik, while geothermal energy was being considered in Fort Liard until the project stalled several years ago.
Sohi hopes the 15 projects selected will lead the way for other communities in future.
“What we envision is that those 15 initiatives, once they are fully developed – other communities that may not qualify for funding will be able to duplicate those initiatives and adapt them to their own realities,” he said.