Solar Energy Moves Indigenous Communities Toward a Renewable Future
August 8, 2019 Fort Chipewyan, Alberta Natural Resources Canada
The Government of Canada is investing in renewable energy to invigorate local economies, create jobs and reduce emissions for a low-carbon future. The adoption of renewable energy technologies is also helping rural and remote communities reduce their reliance on diesel fuels.
The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced a $4.5-million investment in a solar energy and energy storage project in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta. The investment will reduce pollution and create over 40 good, middle-class jobs during construction. The Government of Alberta also contributed $3.3 million to the project.
The project will result in 20 percent of electricity generation for the community coming from renewable sources. Upon completion, a new 2.2-megawatt solar farm will complement an existing 400 kilowatt installation, making it the largest off-grid solar project in Canada. In addition, a battery storage system and micro-grid control system will improve reliability of the grid. The project’s combined solar and battery energy storage system will displace 650,000 litres of diesel fuel per year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1,743 tonnes annually.
The project will be owned by Three Nations Energy, a Limited Partnership formed by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125 — three neighbouring Indigenous groups in Fort Chipewyan. ATCO, an energy infrastructure company, will be a partner in the project.
Funding for the project comes from the Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program. The six-year, $220-million program aims to reduce reliance on diesel in rural and remote communities by deploying and demonstrating renewable energy, encouraging energy efficiency and building local skills and capacity. It is part of the Government of Canada’s Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, a more than $180-billion investment over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
“Working in close partnership with these communities on an off-diesel project of this magnitude will have real and lasting impacts, both on the local communities and in Canada’s fight against climate change. It is our hope that Indigenous ownership, employment and capacity-building in Fort Chipewyan will inspire similar projects in remote communities to reduce diesel use and pollution.”
– The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
“While the regional economy depends on the oil industry, we feel the effects of climate change in Fort Chipewyan and see the growing impacts on our Delta lands. Our members want us to be part of the solution, and we appreciate Canada and Alberta working with us to take a big step forward to cut pollution and protect the environment.”
– Chief Allan Adam
Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
“The Three Nations Energy Solar Farm project showcases our community’s shared vision of achieving energy sovereignty and becoming a leader in creating a climate friendly economy. 3NE will work as one to build capacity and implement other projects in energy efficiency and green energy.”
– Councillor Calvin Waquan
Mikisew Cree First Nation
“Three Nations Energy is about Indigenous peoples working in partnership and collaborating with governments and private industry to protect the environment. Our solar farm will create local jobs and increase our energy security, and over time it will generate revenues to re-invest in our community.”
– Blue Eyes Simpson
Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125
“ATCO is honoured and thrilled to partner with the community of Fort Chipewyan to implement an innovative and sustainable clean energy micro-grid solution. ATCO will build and operate the solar array and battery storage, significantly reducing diesel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs and building capacity for community ownership of the solar farm.”
– Quyen Nguyen
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources