June 21, 2018—This National Indigenous Peoples Day, Bullfrog Power congratulates the Kluane First Nation on breaking ground to build the new Kluane N’tsi (Wind) Energy Project. The project—which was first initiated in 2010 and has been spearheaded by the First Nations community—will see three new wind turbines come to life on land between Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing in the Yukon Territory.
With a combined capacity of 300 kW, the turbines will enable Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay to offset more than one quarter of the diesel fuel the communities use annually, or 160,000 litres per year. Through direct ownership and operation of the project, Kluane First Nation will become the first independent power producer in the Yukon Territory.
A time to celebrate
Celebratory spirits will be high in Burwash Landing, the location of the ground-breaking ceremony, today. The renewable energy project enables the Kluane First Nation to reduce its impact on the land, improve the health of local inhabitants (by lowering the amount of toxins produced by diesel energy generation) and help the First Nation take action on climate change. The project also provides a new revenue stream for the community—while building and maintaining the project has created jobs and developed skills within the community.
The bullfrogpowered community saw potential early on
Owned and operated by the Kluane Community Development Limited Partnership, the Kluane N’tsi Energy Project received funding from a variety of sources including the federal REACHE program, the Yukon Government, the Kluane First Nation and Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider.
Bullfrog was supportive of the project at a very early stage, providing some seed operational funding in 2013. Our contribution came at a time when the feasibility of the project was still being studied and there was still uncertainty as to whether the project would move forward.
“Bullfrog’s support in 2013 came at a crucial time,” says Kate Van Ballegooyen, the Environment Officer at the Kluane First Nation. “We were collecting wind data and that information, coupled with the initial financial support, helped us take our proposal to other organizations, secure additional funding and continue to move forward.”
Indigenous communities and renewables: a prosperous future
Bullfrog was eager to support the project then, and to this day continues to work with Indigenous groups across Canada as they transition to renewable sources of energy.
Often located in remote, off-grid locations, these communities can be reliant on fossil fuels such as diesel to power their communities. Relying on diesel, delivered to the communities at great cost and effort, runs counter to the beliefs of many Indigenous groups in the North who strive to be stewards of the land and to leave as small a footprint on the planet as possible. Fossil fuels damage local environments and affect the health of community members. They can stand in the way of innovation and economic growth, failing to drive new technological and skills development. Contributing to climate change, they put communities located in regions impacted by extreme weather patterns at risk.
Often, in more remote communities, these polluting fuel sources have to be transported in by seasonal ice roads—which means if a terrible winter storm occurs, power sources can be cut off for days, even weeks. At the same time, diesel has been subsidized by government over the years, making it difficult for Indigenous communities to transition onto clean, sustainable energy sources.
Yet there is a growing desire among Indigenous communities to advance sustainable energy projects within their communities. We are seeing more and more projects being installed across the country every year. Bullfrog Power, on behalf of our community, wants to provide additional support where we can.
“We are thankful for Bullfrog’s support for the Kluane N’tsi Energy Project. From their initial involvement back in 2013 to the additional funding we just received in 2018, it is great to see Bullfrog’s continued involvement in this project. We’re thrilled they are part of our celebrations today as we begin the construction phase,” says Van Ballegooyen.
“On behalf of the bullfrogpowered community, I want to congratulate the Kluane First Nation on this accomplishment—and acknowledge the example Kluane N’tsi sets for all northern communities,” says Ron Seftel, Bullfrog Power’s CEO. “We also want to recognize all of our partners in Indigenous communities across Canada for their work to advance renewable power in Canada, their strong desire to protect our environment and their efforts to create a better world for future generations.”
Other Indigenous projects Bullfrog has supported across Canada include:
Haida Heritage Centre solar project
In 2017, Bullfrog supported the Skidegate Band Council’s solar installation on Haida Gwaii’s cultural Heritage Centre. The 100 kW solar installation is the largest community-owned renewable project in B.C. and will reduce the community’s reliance on fossil fuels and electricity costs by 10 million litres of diesel fuel and $100K per year respectively.
Kanaka Bar Indian Band solar project
B.C.’s Kanaka Bar Indian Band, located in the Fraser Canyon, is now home to a 10 kW solar project—built with the support of Bullfrog customers. The solar project is an extension of its previous commitment to the environment—the Band constructed a 50 MW run-of-river hydro project in 2014—and gives the Band an opportunity to integrate solar training into the community. The project was completed in 2016.
Lubicon Lake Band’s solar project
With support from the Bullfrog Power community, the Lubicon Lake Band built the Piitapan Solar Project, an 80-panel installation in 2015. Located near Peace River, Alberta, the solar installation feeds electricity to the community’s health centre and ensures renewable energy will be available for the community’s future generations.
Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation solar power station
The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) is a remote community living on the Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories. With the launch of its 35 kW solar project in 2016, built with support from the Bullfrog Power community, the LKDFN became the first independent power producer in Canada’s northern territories.
Northern Village of Green Lake solar project
The Northern Village of Green Lake, located 300 kms north of Saskatoon, launched a 31.5 kW project on its community hall with support from the Bullfrog community in 2017. The initiative is a first step in a larger solar initiative that will provide much of the electrical power needs of the village.
Swiilawiid Sustainability Society solar projects
In 2018, the bullfrogpowered community supported the Swiilawiid Sustainability Society as they introduced solar power to three Rediscovery camps, places where Haida and all-Island youth can be re-connected to their land, culture and off-grid lifestyles. Rediscovery Haida Gwaii on the north end of the island is now home to a 1.4 kW installation; Swan Bay Rediscovery in the south end houses a beautiful 2 kW installation, while Mount Moresby Adventure Camp in the middle of the island features a 4.5 kW project.