Government of Canada Invests in Alternative Energy Research in Yukon

Geothermal energy could create jobs, and build capacity for the Kaska Nation

WHITEHORSE, YT, Sept. 20, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), and Minister for the Arctic Council, today announced funding for research into long-term, clean energy options for the Kaska Nation.

"Projects that examine alternative, renewable energy options are important in planning for the long-term sustainability of Northern communities," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Moving forward with investments in clean energy research will help us balance our need for energy in growing sectors such as resource development, with our need to protect the environment."

"This project will assist the Kaska Nation to make informed decisions about potential geothermal resources on their lands," said Ryan Leef, Yukon Member of Parliament. "Positive results from this research could lead to new project development, which in turn could create jobs, new businesses and build capacity."

"The Government of Yukon is committed to identifying and developing renewable and sustainable energy sources in all regions of Yukon," Economic Development Minister Currie Dixon said. "This project fits well with our commitment and encourages prosperity, partnership and innovation that will result in direct benefit to the communities of Ross River and Watson Lake."

"The Kaska are cautiously optimistic that geothermal resources will prove to be viable near our communities," said Derek Loots, President of the Kaska Energy Corporation, a Kaska-owned corporation. "Geothermal energy is ideally suited to our northern climate and it is in keeping with our philosophies of small footprints on the land and sustainable opportunities for our people and the region. It is the Kaska vision to play a lead role in energy development within our traditional territory."

CanNor's investment of over $124,000 will support geological exploration within two areas that are thought to potentially have near-surface geothermal resources. The resource potential in the Ross River and Watson Lake regions was first identified in 2011 during clean energy inventory work co-funded by CanNor and the Kaska Nation.

This new project will be broken into two phases. Phase one will involve data collection, mapping and field work to assess historic drill holes for geothermal testing. Once completed, phase two would involve field exploration including temperature profiling and geophysical surveying.

This project includes partnership funding from Yukon Energy Corporation, Yukon Electrical Company, the Kaska Nation and the Yukon Government, as well as CanNor, and represents an investment of $248,940 toward the examination of alternative, renewable energy options in the North. At the end of the project, the Kaska Nation will have the information needed to decide whether to proceed with future phases of geothermal exploration which could lead to major energy development in their traditional territory.

As much of the geothermal exploration will take place within the Ross River region, the Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation (DNDC) is administering this initiative for the Kaska Nation. DNDC is responsible for creating economic development and employment opportunities for the Ross River Dena and increasing the value of economic activity in the northern region of the Kaska traditional territory. The Ross River Dena Council is one of five communities within the Kaska Nation governed by a collaborative agreement.

Investment in this project is made possible through CanNor's Aboriginal Economic Development (AED) suite of programs which aim to increase the participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in the northern economy. AED is one of several economic development programs within CanNor. CanNor works to help develop a diversified, sustainable and dynamic economy across Canada's three territories, and delivers on its northern mandate through funding programs, the Northern Projects Management Office and by undertaking policy and research.

For more information about CanNor, visit cannor.gc.ca

For more information on Canada's Northern Strategy, visit: northernstrategy.ca

SOURCE CanNor

For further information:

Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Jennifer Kennedy
819-997-1441

Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Christina Gray
Communications Advisor
867-766-8435

Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation 
Marie Skidmore
CEO
867-969-2832