Rid­ing a new HEAT WAVE

First Na­tions em­brace geo­ther­mal, so­lar en­ergy sources

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - THE GREEN PAGE -

THE IN­TER­LAKE — House­hold­ers on Peguis and Fisher River First Na­tions are lead­ing the way in a cut­ting-edge project to ex­ploit a clean en­ergy source, save a pile of money and un­der­score abo­rig­i­nal val­ues of living with the land, not just off it. They are em­bark­ing on the prov­ince’s largest geo­ther­mal ven­ture, heat­ing more than 200 homes — and a reg­u­la­tion-sized in­door hockey arena. The un­der­tak­ing means elim­i­nat­ing the long-stand­ing prac­tice of heat­ing those homes with wood and elec­tric­ity and re­plac­ing it with the new­est, and es­sen­tially the old­est, method of heat­ing, us­ing sources within the earth. Typ­i­cal house­hold monthly heat­ing bills of $600 will be sharply re­duced as will the risk of house fires, a scourge on First Na­tions. Not to men­tion soot, un­even heat and lon­grun­ning win­ter colds. “Burning wood, tra­di­tion­ally peo­ple have done that in our com­mu­nity. That’s a re­new­able re­source, but when you have a pop­u­la­tion that’s dou­bled in the last 14 years, it puts a huge de­mand on wood,” said Peguis Chief Glenn Hud­son, an en­gi­neer by pro­fes­sion. “So we looked at al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources... It’s some­thing we feel we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity as First Na­tions to pro­mote... green en­ergy, sus­tain­able-en­ergy projects. We need to pro­mote that as First Na­tions peo­ple.” And that meant geo­ther­mal, along with some so­lar en­ergy. The key man in mak­ing it pos­si­ble is Brent Laufer, whose Laufer En­ter­prises hooked The Forks up to geo­ther­mal heat and is now work­ing with both First Na­tions in a mul­ti­year con­ver­sion pro­gram. So far, 128 homes on Fisher River and 110 on Peguis have been con­verted. Twenty Peguis homes also use so­lar pan­els to heat hot wa­ter,

RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Clay­ton Sin­clair (in or­ange) and Lyle McKay in­stall a geo­ther­mal fur­nace. Not only is it cut­ting heat­ing bills, it is pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment for res­i­dents.

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