Ontario Construction News staff writer
Whitesand First Nation has been awarded $35-million to build a combined heat and power facility that will use locally sourced wood waste to produce energy for the communities.
Once constructed, the 6.5-megawatt facility will reduce the use of diesel fuel for heat and electricity in Whitesand First Nation, and the communities of Armstrong and Collins.
“Whitesand’s vision of energy independence and economic growth began in 1992 when we proposed a biomass cogeneration facility,” said Chief Allan Gustafson, Whitesand First Nation. “Although that proposal was not accepted, and despite the many barriers we have faced through the years, we did not give up and today our vision of a sustainable future through the use of our local forest is at hand.”
The site will connect to the local micro-grid and provide power for three communities, displacing diesel consumption and improving local air quality. It will power clean and renewable industrial growth in the region as the electricity generated will also provide heat and power to a new wood pellet plant and a fully electric wood merchandising yard, which supports good jobs.
This project also enables increased local Indigenous economic development and employment by providing an opportunity to participate in the local bioeconomy by using renewable sources of heat.
“The Bio-Economy Centre is confirmation of how Canada’s low-carbon programs and support can lead to substantial economic growth, employment, GHG reduction and forestry expansion,” David L. Mackett, Sagatay Co-Generation Limited Partnership. “This project empowers an Indigenous community to enter Canada’s and Ontario’s economy while demonstrating how carbon reduction can lead to poverty reduction in similar communities across Canada.”