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FORT NELSON, B.C. – The provincial government has granted Fort Nelson First Nation a second geothermal permit to advance the development of the Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal project at Clarke Lake.

This new permit builds off parcels of land awarded in the previous 2019 permit. It will allow the First Nation to expand exploratory work and planning for the project to additional areas of interest and offers the potential to provide added economic benefits from the generation of clean, renewable geothermal power and heat, according to the province.

The permit grants geothermal resource rights to Deh Tai LP, a development company of the Fort Nelson First Nation.

The rights are for land parcels totalling approximately 6,700 hectares adjacent to areas permitted in 2019 in the mature Clarke Lake gas field near Fort Nelson, located in the northeast corner of B.C.

The province says that with tenure secured, Deh Tai can apply to the BC Oil and Gas Commission for well authorizations to conduct exploratory work to assess the geothermal resource.

“Our government is committed to working with First Nations to advance new clean-energy opportunities in a low-carbon economy,” said Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

“The Fort Nelson area is not on the province’s electrical grid, so this project has the potential to offset natural gas-fired electricity and heat with clean, renewable geothermal energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide jobs and economic development opportunities for local services and businesses.”

Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal seeks to re-purpose the Clarke Lake gas field in Northeast B.C. and utilize the geothermal heat resources in its reservoir. A geothermal electricity generation plant will then be developed, aiming to produce six to 15 megawatts of clean electricity.

The project will also evaluate heating opportunities. After being used to generate electricity, geothermal brine is still very hot and can provide heat for buildings, agricultural purposes (such as greenhouse heating) or industrial processes, such as drying timber products, according to a release.

According to the province, The project will create approximately 50 jobs. It could offset about 35,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to taking around 7,500 gas-burning vehicles off the road yearly.

“With the Tu Deh-Kah Geothermal project, Fort Nelson First Nation is proudly demonstrating Indigenous leadership that will help pave the way for Western Canada’s transition toward a cleaner and more energy secure future,” said Sharleen Gale, Chief of Fort Nelson First Nation.

“This geothermal permit has secured us the geothermal rights to critical gaps between the previously awarded geothermal permit that have been identified as prime geothermal development areas, allowing us to further the investigation and development of the Tu Deh-Kah project.”

To date, the province says it has contributed more than $1 million to the project, including $530,000 from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund and $500,000 through the B.C. Indigenous Clean Energy Initiative is a partnership with Western Economic Diversification Canada and the New Relationship Trust.

To learn more about the project, click here.

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Spencer HallInvestigative Reporter

Spencer Hall is a news reporter for and a recent graduate of the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s Radio Arts & Entertainment program. Growing up in Northwest B.C. made Spencer aware of the importance of local journalism, independent media, and reconciliation. In his spare time, you can find Spencer reading, playing video games, or at the FSJ dog park with his dog, Teddy.