(Photo submitted)

Montana First Nation builds the largest on-reserve solar farm in Canada

By Chevi Rabbit

By Chevi Rabbit

For Ponoka News

Montana First Nation, part of the Four Bands of Maskwacis Cree, created the largest on-reserve solar farm in Canada. A celebration was held on Sept. 14, 2020. However, the official operational launch date is expected this month.

This project has been a long-term project started in 2014 with completion in 2020.

Newly-elected Montana First Nation coun. Chase Rabbit is happy that his nation is providing environmentally-friendly energy.

“It opens the door for other business ventures and is an investment back into Montana First Nation,” he said.

The $12 million solar farm was financed with an $8 million grant from Alberta’s Indigenous Green Energy Development Program, with the Government of Alberta. The grant assists Alberta Indigenous communities and organizations to acquire an ownership stake in Alberta’s rapidly-expanding renewable energy sector.

The federal government provided $1 million, with Montana providing $3 million. Utimately, the project is expected to bring in an annual revenue of $800,000.

Construction of the solar farm partnered with GP Joule as the prime contractor and Montana First Nation-owned and operated entities Akamihk Kanataskiy Ventures (AKV) and Green Arrow Akamihk. Green Arrow Akamihk has previous experience in residential and commercial solar installations and part of this utility-scale build.

In an official statement David Pichard, CEO of GP Joule says that the solar installation is unique because it is a large utility-scale project built on-reserve of First Nation land and providing long-term funding to Montana First Nation through the sale of its electricity to the Alberta grid.

The project is expected to feed approximately 7,677 megawatt-hours of clean energy into the regional grid every year for the next 25 years: an amount equivalent to powering just over 1,060 homes annually.

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