New SaskPower program aims to lower power bills in northern First Nations communities

A new SaskPower program hope to curb high power bills in First Nations communities in northern Saskatchewan.

The Crown corporation announced the Northern First Nations Home Retrofit Program — designed to provide a number of free home retrofits for eligible customers — on Monday.

A home assessment could result in a variety of upgrades. That includes improved insulation, upgraded pipes and even LED light installations aimed at saving energy and money.

“Not everywhere in the province is blessed with the ability of heating their homes with natural gas. Many communities in the north rely on electric heat, which is more expensive,” says Scott McGregor, media relations consultant with SaskPower. “This program is certainly designed to help offset those costs and help bring those power bills down.”

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According to SaskPower, the program is open to qualified northern First Nations communities in the province that use electric heat as their primary heating source.

“It’s a program that is designed to have northern First Nations who are eligible work directly with us,” said McGregor. “From there, the community would find eligible residents within the community. So when the community reaches back to us, we check their eligibility and then send one of our consultants out for the free advisory meeting.”

Participants will be visited by an energy efficiency advisor who will speak to them about their energy use and identify what retrofits will make the most impact on their consumption and bills, McGregor said. Advisors will also provide one-on-one coaching about energy.

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He added that SaskPower has already identified a number of communities which meet the initial requirements such as: Big Island Lake Cree Nation, Birch Narrows Dene Nation, Black Lake Denesuline First Nation and Canoe Lake Cree First Nation.

SaskPower expects the program to cost $3.77 million with 75 per cent of the cost being covered by federal government funding.

The program will be available until Mar. 31, 2024 in partnership with the Canadian government’s Low Carbon Economy Fund.

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