Hiawatha First Nation community hub goes solar

Officials launch a new solar installation at Hiawatha First Nation on Tuesday.
Officials launch a new solar installation at Hiawatha First Nation on Tuesday. Hiawatha First Nation

Hiawatha First Nation has added a solar installation to the Old Railroad Stop, the community’s flagship business and gathering place.

Officials on Tuesday gathered at the community about 20 kilometres south of Peterborough to mark the 22-kilowatt installation, which is a project by BASF and Bullfrog Power.

READ MORE: Solar power installation complete on Cowessess First Nation

The companies say the installation will generate enough carbon-free energy to meet approximately 14 per cent of the building’s overall electricity requirements annually. The solar project is expected to save Hiawatha First Nation approximately $154,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years.

“It is vital to do all that we can to protect Mother Earth and the air that surrounds her, and using solar energy is just one way to shift away from carbon-based fuels that negatively impact our world,” said Hiawatha’s Chief Laurie Carr.

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“We partnered with BASF and Bullfrog Power to do our part in switching to a renewable energy source. The use of solar energy at our Old Railroad Stop will not only reduce the emissions from carbon-based fuels but will also provide significant savings on energy costs. This is our first step in using renewable energy as a First Nation and the use of renewable energy sources will be included in all our future planning.”

The current facility sits at the former location of a train station and grocery store dating back to the 1850s. The multi-use facility houses a convenience store, gift shop, gas bar, restaurant and museum. The site functions as a job-training center for local youth and continues to provide employment opportunities for many of them.

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Hiawatha First Nation councillor Kirk Edwards is an employee of BASF Canada.

“Integrating renewable energy into the landscape of Hiawatha enables the community to craft their own vision for environmental sustainability,” said Marcelo Lu, president of BASF Canada.

“We’re optimistic about the future and supporting innovations that help cities use less energy, make the air we breathe cleaner, and turn ideas into reality; especially when it comes to championing projects in communities where we live and work, and reinforcing our commitment to build lasting relationships with Indigenous communities.”

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Bullfrog Power has supported more than 140 green energy projects nationwide through its community renewable projects program.

“With its focus on contributing to a world that provides a viable future with an enhanced quality of life for everyone, BASF is the perfect partner for this community-based renewable energy project,” said Anthony Santilli, vice-president of sales and marketing.

“By increasing awareness of the power and potential of solar energy, this project complements a significant landmark in southern Ontario and we are proud to be a part of it.”

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