Fisher River Cree Nation, MB, August 19, 2020—Fisher River Cree Nation has launched the biggest solar project in Manitoba. The 1-megawatt facility has almost 3,000 solar panels and was built entirely by Indigenous employees. The project’s focus is to generate revenue for the community and inspire other First Nations to pursue renewable energy solutions.
“This solar project is a source of empowerment and pride for our community,” said Fisher River Cree Nation Chief David Crate. “In addition to generating revenue and training local workers in solar installation, we’re also starting a conversation about large-scale green energy. We want to show both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that ambitious renewable energy projects are possible without further harming the environment.
“Fisher River Cree Nation would like to thank Western Economic Diversification Canada for their generous contribution of $1 million towards the project.
“Furthermore, we would like to thank our partners W Dusk Energy, Bullfrog Power, Solvest, and the Royal Bank of Canada.”
“Manitoba Hydro is pleased to support Fisher River Cree Nation in this project,” said Jeffrey Betker, Manitoba Hydro Vice-President, External & Indigenous Relations and Communications. “The project helps diversify Manitoba Hydro’s renewable energy supply, and as the interest in solar-generated energy is growing, it only makes sense Manitoba Hydro partnered with Fisher River Cree Nation to learn more about how utility-scale solar farms can add value to our system and our customers.”
Electricity from the Fisher River solar project is being injected into Manitoba Hydro’s grid, and the project is a source of green electricity for Bullfrog Power, a Spark Power company. “Congratulations to Fisher River Cree Nation on this shining achievement,” said Sean Drygas, President, Bullfrog Power. “This solar project is an important milestone in the advance of renewable energy in Canada, and we are honoured to support this community in making it a reality.”
W Dusk Energy Group Inc., an Indigenous-owned renewable energy firm, helped design and manage the Fisher River solar project. David Isaac, who is Mi’kmaw and the owner of W Dusk Energy, sees renewable energy as an important priority for First Nations.
“We’re trying to create a new standard for our communities,” Isaac said. “People are more enlightened about self-sufficiency and decentralized energy, and Fisher River is right at the leading edge of that.” Isaac also noted that the Fisher River solar farm could become a blueprint for other First Nations looking to generate renewable power.
The Fisher River community funded the nearly $2.4 million project with its own money, along with $1 million in support from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
“Congratulations on this remarkable achievement. The 1-megawatt solar farm is a great example of leadership by the Fisher River Cree Nation,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Our investment highlights the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation and belief in the promise of renewable energy for generations to come.”
RBC will purchase the green electricity that Bullfrog Power sources from the Fisher River solar farm.
“Fisher River Cree Nation has been a remarkable advocate for solar energy,” said Tom Thordarson, Senior Indigenous Commercial Account Manager, RBC. “We are proud to continue our work together—raising awareness for the long-term value of renewable energy.”
In addition to generating profit for the First Nation, the solar project has also led to training and employment opportunities for 11 community members. Participants completed a 1-week training course before spending 6 weeks installing panels on the solar farm. This experience could lead to further job opportunities during an expansion or at renewable projects in other communities.
Fisher River’s solar array hosts wildflowers to help support the local bee population, as well as an electric vehicle (EV) charging station that Tesla donated. EV charging is available at no cost to the public.
The First Nation’s commitment to sustainability does not stop at the solar farm, and the community has trained 15 certified local workers to install geothermal heating systems. These systems increase energy efficiency and have already cut the electricity costs in half for 300 homes.
In the future, Fisher River plans to further expand its expertise in renewable energy technology.
About Fisher River Cree Nation
Fisher River Cree Nation is a community in which our history, language, traditions, and culture are paramount to who we are as a people. We will protect and maintain the spirit and intent of the treaties and our inherent rights. Fisher River will be a self-sustaining progressive community with a strong and accountable government. We will provide an environment where all people are healthy, safe, and respected.
About Bullfrog Power, a Spark Power company
Bullfrog Power, part of Spark Power Group Inc (TSX: SPG), is Canada’s leading green energy provider. Bullfrog offers renewable energy solutions that enable individuals and businesses to reduce their environmental impact, support the development of green energy projects in Canada, and help create a cleaner, healthier world. As a Certified B Corporation, Bullfrog Power meets higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Thousands of individuals and businesses in Canada are doing their part to address climate change and air pollution by choosing green energy with Bullfrog Power. Sign up easily, quickly and affordably at bullfrogpower.com. Join the bullfrogpowered community online on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.