Aki Energy and Manitoba Hydro will complete $18 million of geothermal work on Manitoba First Nations over the next three years, says Shaun Loney, Executive Director of BUILD Inc.
Aki is a First Nations social enterprise that was formed through a unique partnership including Green Communities Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance and Green Communities Canada member organization BUILD Inc. in Winnipeg. “GCC was integral in getting Aki off the ground. They are number one in Canada when it comes to energy efficiency and we were glad to tap into their expertise,” said Darcy Wood, Founding Executive Director of Aki Energy. “They lent a lot of credibility when we needed it most.” Aki’s first year was a huge success. Two non-profit First Nation owned construction companies were trained to do geothermal installs and went on to retrofit 113 homes in Fisher River Cree Nation and Peguis First Nation. While the social enterprise component of the work is innovative, so is the way the high upfront costs of the work are covered. The retrofits cut electrical bills in half and Hydro adds a charge to the utility bill that is less than the bill reductions. This financing charge is collected until the upfront cost has been recouped. Manitoba Hydro calls this Pay-As-You-Save financing – something GCC has researched heavily in recent years. It is worth noting that Kathleen Wynne, the newly elected Premier of Ontario has promised PAYS financing in Ontario. Aki is an Ojibway word meaning “earth”. For more information on this project visit www.akienergy.com.