The biomass facility in Fort Babine would potentially help reduce the carbon footprint of the community. (Black Press file photo)

Lake Babine Nation’s biomass project in Fort Babine takes off

A $779,000 funding from Natural Resource Canada provides the impetus

The preliminary work and construction on Lake Babine Nation’s (LBN) biomass plant has finally begun, with a boost from Natural Resource Canada’s $779,000 funding.

LBN announced the receipt of the funding in a summer 2019 Nedut’en Distl’is or a newsletter, and mentioned that the funding is for the construction of a “biomass facility in Fort Babine which will be a system that is to heat the school, clinic, water treatment plant and possibly other facilities that will be operated by the community of Fort Babine. The project will be a joint venture between LBN and Vision Quest Advisors with Mr. Jay Savage.”

The biomass plant project start was delayed when LBN’s grant requests were denied, including the one from Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) in 2017. The project was supposed to start and complete in 2017 itself, however, lack of sufficient funding forced LBN to shelve the project. Now with the Natural Resource Canada (NRCan) funding, the project is set to start with renewed force.

RELATED: Lake Babine Nation’s biomass project delayed

“We are hoping for the project to resume work in a week or two and hoping that the project would be done by October of this year,” said Project Manager Bernard Patrick, adding that the current delay has mainly been due to Covid.

The project would be implemented in stages where a beta testing of the biomass facility would help assess the necessity based on consumption data.

“This will be like the first stage of it where the system would be heating the buildings in that community which are the health plant, the water plant, administrative buildings, the schools and upon an assessment of the results of that, we would be branching off to houses in the next stage,” said Patrick.

The funding is part of Natural Resource Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC) program that will be awarding $220 million in funding over a period of six years starting 2018-2019 for several clean energy projects.

A spokesperson for Natural Resource Canada (NRCan) told Black Press that the CERRC program supported several diverse projects across Canada in a bid to reduce the reliance of rural and remote communities on diesel fuel for heat and power.

“The agreement between NRCan and Lake Babine Nation falls under the “BioHeat” stream and was signed January 10, 2020,” he said.

The NRCan representative also said that the project involved installation of proven biomass heating or combined heat and power technology to displace fossil fuel use and reduce GHG emissions in the community.

“The expected results include the displacement of fossil fuels and the reduction of GHG emissions,” he said adding that any further comment from NRCan would be premature as the project was still in its early stages, with an expected completion date of March 31, 2021.

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