Bullfrog Power and BASF join the Hiawatha First Nation in unveiling a new solar installation on the community’s flagship business and gathering place
On the shores of Rice Lake in Ontario sits The Old Railroad Stop. A central gathering place for members of the Hiawatha First Nation since the 1850s. The Old Railroad Stop is in many ways considered the heart of this community. Visitors from near and far drop by to fill up at the gas station, pop into the convenience store or grab a bite to eat in the restaurant. People fishing on the lake can dock their boats directly outside during breaks. Inside, visitors will find an old log cabin tucked inside the building, which houses a gift shop.
On Tuesday, October 16, members of the Bullfrog Power team, along with BASF Canada, headed out to The Old Railroad Stop to celebrate the completion of the newest addition to the site: a 22 kW solar array that now sits atop the community landmark.
At the celebration, Chief Laurie Carr thanked everyone for their hard work in making the project a reality. After referencing the UN IPCC’s most recent report on climate change, which increased the call for urgent action, Carr had a message of hope for the community. “Not only will this project reduce our emissions and deliver significant energy savings — it will be a first step in using renewable energy for our First Nation. As we continue with more building, and more projects, renewable energy will be a key element in our planning processes,” said Carr.
As both a member of the Hiawatha First Nation Council, and an employee of BASF for over 20 years, Kirk Edwards was the one who helped establish the community’s connection with BASF Canada and Bullfrog Power.
Focused on developing meaningful engagement with First Nations communities across Canada, BASF first partnered with the community to bring environmental and science-based initiatives to the youth at Hiawatha through their Kids’ Lab program, a series of hands-on chemistry workshops.
For the solar installation, Kirk was able to make the introductions to key members of the Hiawatha Council and the project’s development began. Wanting to have a lasting impact in the community, BASF enlisted Bullfrog Power and tasked them with creating a visible renewable energy project in the heart of Hiawatha. As Canada’s 100% green energy provider who is deeply committed to supporting community-based renewable projects, Bullfrog was proud to be able to be a key player in the project from early on. Working in unison, BASF, Bullfrog Power and Hiawatha First Nations completed the project within a few months.
Through its Community Renewable Projects program, Bullfrog uses the support of its customers to provide funding to renewable energy projects across Canada. To date, Bullfrog has helped fund more than 140 projects with students, community groups, Indigenous Peoples and renewable co-ops across the country.
It is projected that the panels will save the community more than $150,000 over the next 25 years. They also provide a great example not only to everyone who visits The Old Railroad Stop, but to communities across Canada that renewable energy is feasible — and provides a number of environmental, economic and social benefits.