Manitoba Hydro has announced its Community Geothermal Program.
This is a joint project between the Canadian province, First Nations, Aki Energy and Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance, which involves taking heat from the ground and transferring it to homes.
The project will create jobs and lower electricity costs in many First Nations communities.
Workers from several First Nations have been hired to install geothermal systems and Manitoba Hydro will cover the capital costs to have these systems installed, which is part of the utility’s PAYS (Pay As You Save) financing program. It is estimated that the costs of the geothermal conversions will be around $15,000 for each home.
Currently, via the program, over 100 homes in the Fisher River and Peguis have been converted to geothermal power. So far, the project has been considered a giant success, particularly in regard to saving people money on their energy bills and in helping people find employment. The project will be expanding to three additional communities.
In a statement released by Manitoba Hydro, the minister in charge of the utility, Stan Struthers said, “Converting electrically heated homes on First Nations to geothermal lowers energy bills for residents, provides training opportunities for young people, and creates good jobs in the community.” He added that Hydro believes there is even more potential for the province.
The Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson said, “We feel as First Nations we need to be stewards of the land and that’s to promote sustainable energy.”
During the next 6 months, over 200 geothermal energy installations have been planned.
Long Plain First Nation, Chemawawin First Nation and Sagkeeng First Nation, will be joining in the program and an estimated 250 geothermal installations have been planned for over the course of the next six months. This year, 40 First Nations people will be hired on full time to install the geothermal systems within their own communities. Corey Thordarson of Chief Peguis Construction stated that “It’s really busy.” He said that the installations will keep them going for a long while and that is exactly what they want.
According to Manitoba Hydro, in 2017, the geothermal energy program will save customers $157 million.