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This article was published 15/11/2015 (2421 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The province is expanding geothermal heating to two more First Nations.
That brings the number of First Nations in Manitoba converting to the earth-based heating and cooling system to six.
The two additional First Nations, located in southern or western Manitoba, will be selected this winter.
Premier Greg Selinger announced $150,000 to support Winnipeg-based Aki Energy in a process to identify the two First Nations by this spring.
"Bringing clean, green energy to First Nation communities is an urgent need, both from an environmental and an economic perspective," Selinger said.
The premier made the announcement Friday at Aki Energy’s offices on Main Street, along with Conservation Minister Tom Nevakshonoff, Long Plain Chief Dennis Meeches, Sagkeeng Chief Derek Henderson and Aki Energy executive director Darcy Wood.
Currently, 350 houses on four First Nations have been retrofitted with geothermal systems, which cut heating costs by 40 per cent.
The four First Nations are Peguis, Fisher River, Long Plain and Sagkeeng.
The projects show a measurable commitment to combat climate change, the premier said.
"Reducing greenhouse gases is about reducing the consumption of fuels and the more we do this kind of work with Manitoba Hydro and our community partners, the more sustainable a province we will be with good quality green jobs in the future. That’s exactly what we want. Climate change shouldn’t be a negative. It should be a positive," the premier said.
The additional funding will allow Aki Energy, an indigenous green agency and social enterprise, to roll out consultation and community engagement services in order to select and train managers and installers on the two yet-to-be-chosen First Nations. "We’ll begin the process right away so we are ready for the 2016 construction season," Wood said.
"We embraced the project," Meeches said of the 30 homes that have been retrofitted so far on the Ojibway community 90 kilometres west of Winnipeg.
He said over the next five or six years he’d like every home converted and new commercial developments on and off reserve to look at installing geothermal systems.
Henderson said 15 homes have been retrofitted so far on his Ojibway community, 145 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. "We want to do as many homes as we can. The other thing is we’re looking at is geothermal at the arena and some of our businesses," the added.
Space heating and cooling are provided through a geothermal heat pump. The systems use a heat pump to transfer thermal energy between the ground and the building.
So far, the province has spent $13 million-plus on converting homes on the four First Nations. The cost of converting a home averages about $17,000, covered by a loan program through Manitoba Hydro. Homeowners pay that money back in monthly installments as part of the heating bills.