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6 Alberta First Nations invest in natural gas power plant; loan backed by province

Click to play video '6 First Nations invest in Edson power project with loan backed by Alberta government' 6 First Nations invest in Edson power project with loan backed by Alberta government
Six Alberta First Nations are investing $93 million for an equity stake in a new natural gas power plant west of Edmonton. As Tom Vernon explains, their participation in the Cascade Power project near Edson is being backed by a Crown corporation set up by the provincial government to help Indigenous groups invest in natural resource projects.

Six Alberta First Nations are investing $93 million for an equity stake in a new natural gas power plant.

Their participation in the Cascade Power Project near Edson, west of Edmonton, is being backed by a loan guarantee from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp.

The Crown corporation was set up by the Alberta government to help Indigenous groups invest in natural resource projects.

Read more: Alberta asks First Nations to resume industry consultations after coronavirus pause

The loan guarantee for the Cascades plant is the first one the corporation has provided since its inception last November.

The investment is being made through a holding company owned by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Enoch Cree Nation, Kehewin Cree Nation, O’Chiese First Nation, Paul First Nation and Whitefish Lake First Nation.

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Cascade is being developed and will be operated by Calgary-based Kineticor Resource Corp. at a cost of $1.5-billion.

The company says it will supply eight per cent of Alberta’s electricity needs once it starts up in 2023.

“It is one of the most exciting social and economic developments of our time and it points not just to a better future of coming generations of Indigenous people, but to a fairer, a more equitable and a more united province and a better future for all of us,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told a news conference Wednesday.

Read more: Alberta contributes $3.3M for huge solar farm in remote Fort Chipewyan

Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Chief Tony Alexis said the deal is transformational for the First Nations involved and creates the national blueprint for Indigenous communities to acquire ownership in major energy and infrastructure projects.

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Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley issued the following statement in response to the announcement of the first AIOC-backed project.

“While investment in the Cascade Power Project is good news, the problems with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation remain. Only certain First Nations can qualify for the loan guarantees offered by the AIOC and the scope of economic development included is far too limited.

“True economic reconciliation would ensure greater self-determination by Indigenous groups of the types of projects they would like to support as they move forward. I would encourage the premier to work with Indigenous partners to improve the AIOC,” Notley said.

— With files from Global News