Remote Canadian solar project inspires international community

 

On the shores of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, a local First Nation is inspiring the world’s Arctic communities to switch to renewable energy.

For decades, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) relied solely on fossil fuels to meet its electricity needs. Its remote location meant that diesel fuel, which contributes to climate change and air pollution, was the community’s only available source of electricity generation.

In 2013, green energy champions in Lutsel K’e started gathering support from local and federal governments to raise money for a solar installation. With support from our customers, Bullfrog Power partnered with the LKDFN to help fund the community’s first solar power station. After years of hard work by Lutsel K’e residents, the solar array launched in 2016.

Because the First Nation owns the solar array, it was able to negotiate a power purchase agreement with Northwest Territories Power Corporation. This agreement gives the LKDFN the distinction of becoming the first independent power producer anywhere in Canada’s territories—which means the LKDFN is now the first non-government entity to generate electricity and reap the economic benefits on behalf of the people who live in the community.

From left, on the site where the solar installation stands now: Laura Jane Michel, Former Chief Felix Lockhart, Sudhir Jha, Donald Andre, Mod Casaway, Wayne Barnes, Derek Michel
From left, on the site where the solar installation stands now: Laura Jane Michel, Former Chief Felix Lockhart, Sudhir Jha, Donald Andre, Mod Casaway, Wayne Barnes, Derek Michel

With the launch of the solar project, the LKDFN wanted to demonstrate the “sustainable path open to communities across Canada, particularly in northern communities that rely on diesel generators,” said Agatha Laboucan, SAO/Band Manager, LKDFN.

Earlier this year, just shy of the one-year anniversary of the launch of the solar project, Arctic community members from Canada, the United States and Greenland visited Lutsel K’e to learn how they could recreate the community’s success with renewables at home. Through an Arctic tour of Canada, Alaska and Iceland, the group will learn from those who have implemented solar, wind, biomass and geothermal energy in remote communities. The tour is being organized by the Arctic Remote Energy Networks Academy, which is a remote community capacity building initiative promoted and led by the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group.

A sunny, snow-covered day in Lutsel K’e
A sunny, snow-covered day in Lutsel K’e

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