Energy & Power
Aki Energy leads project to convert Manitoba First Nations to geothermal
By Anthony Capkun
June 16, 2013 – Dave Chomiak, Manitoba’s innovation, energy and mines minister (and minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro), and Manitoba Hydro president Scott Thomson announced that residents of the Peguis and Fisher River First Nations will be converting 100 homes in their communities from electric heat to geothermal heating and cooling this summer.
The project is led by Aki Energy Inc., a social enterprise created by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, BUILD Inc., Green Communities Canada and the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance. 30 members of the two communities have been trained to do the conversions.
Aki Energy spearheaded the project at Fisher River and Peguis First Nations. With the success of this project, Aki Energy plans to expand this program province-wide, and will partner with four more Manitoba First Nations next year.
“Using Hydro’s innovative Pay-as-You-Save [PAYS] financing, this program can be a template for other communities across the province,” said Premier Greg Selinger.
Manitoba Hydro will finance the upfront capital costs through the PAYS program, and the First Nations will repay those costs using the monthly utility bill savings. Savings are expected to exceed $90 a month per home. Hydro will provide additional program costs based on the value of the electricity saved on the export market.
“With a growing population and growing economy, our capacity to supply Manitoba’s power needs will run out about 2022,” said Thomson. “That’s less than a decade. Manitoba Hydro has an obligation to its customers to prepare for the energy needs that are fast approaching. Doing nothing is not an option.”