Dozens of employees were welcomed back to work in Fort St. James after a new Indigenous-Industry partnership recently completed the acquisition of a 40-megawatt biomass facility.
BioNorth Energy made the announcement Thursday, Dec. 2.
The joint-venture partnership between Nak’azdli Development Corporation, Arrow and Nexus PMG disclosed plans to revive the Fort St. James Green Energy Project earlier this year.
Commercial operations began in late 2017 under a 30-year electricity purchase agreement with BC Hydro but had ceased in spring 2021, putting close to 40 people out of work.
“Now is our time to challenge the future,” Nak’azdli Whut’en Chief Aileen Prince said in a news release.
“While many communities have minority stakes in forestry-sector projects, there are very few partnerships where an Indigenous community has a significant equity position in a multi-million-dollar project. With BioNorth Energy, Nak’azdli Whut’en has a strong voice at the table, a seat on the Board, and direct involvement in the management of forest resources within our traditional territory.”
A total of 34 workers have been assigned to complete minor recommissioning activities, with plans to have the facility back online, generating clean power for British Columbians later this month.
BioNorth Energy said they continue to work with the province on the transfer of a 20-year forestry license to supply fibre to the facility that they hope to have completed by early 2022.
Extensive recommissioning work at the facility will take place next spring.
“It’s an exciting day for the whole BioNorth Energy team,” said BioNorth Energy president Tim Bell.
“This deal shows what’s possible when industry and Indigenous communities identify meaningful opportunities and work incredibly hard together to turn ideas into reality.”