A Saskatchewan First Nation has made a big step forward in the world of solar energy and economic growth.
Cowessess First Nation announced Wednesday the completion of a major solar power installation at the Cowessess Renewable Energy Storage Facility.
A newly added solar array, combined with their existing wind turbine battery storage, marks the first utility-scale hybrid solar and wind power site in Saskatchewan, and the first known wind-solar battery storage project in the country.
“In 1874 when we signed treaty, our ancestors wanted to thrive in this economy, they wanted to be part of the growth and a lot of our grandmas and grandpas got a lot of red tape and polices thrown at them and this is for them,” Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said.
“We are exercising the truth and reconciliation #92, to make sure that our children can now know that they can become scientists, engineers and they can work for their own First Nation.”
The new 340 KW solar farm was supported by the government of Canada, SaskPower and Saskatchewan Research Council.
“This project will strengthen Indigenous business development and entrepreneurship by developing and growing a First Nation’s owned and controlled clean tech business,” Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale said.
“This is just the beginning. There is a lot of space out there for more solar panels and you have every right to be enthusiastic about what’s been accomplished here and what it spells for the future.”
Being one of the sunniest places in the country, solar power system representatives said the location played a big role in the expansion.
“There’s no better place than southern Saskatchewan to install solar in all of Canada. The system installed here produces substantially more than if the same system was installed in Rome, Italy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil or Miami, Florida,” Skyfire representative David Vonesch said.
The Cowessess Renewable Energy Storage Facility has been providing wind power to SaskPower’s system since 2013 and is part of a 20-year power purchase agreement between them and Cowessess First Nation.