Ermineskin First Nation soon to become major electricity generator

One-megawatt solar energy project to begin selling power to provincial grid next month

The switch will soon be flipped on a solar energy project that will generate tens of thousands of dollars for Ermineskin First Nation, while energizing economic development.

Built on six acres, the one-megawatt generator and its 3,500 solar panels will produce power to be sold into the province’s electrical grid, providing annual revenues for the band of $80,000 to $150,000, depending on energy demand and pricing.

The project cost $2.7 million, including connection costs and background studies, said Sam Minde, chief executive officer of the band-owned Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc.

It was paid for with grants from the Western Economic Diversification Fund and the province’s Climate Leadership Plan, and is expected to be connected to the grid by mid-December.

“It’s going to be the biggest distributed generation in Alberta,” he said.

Called the Sundancer generator, it was built and will be operated through a partnership with SkyFire Energy.

Minde said the project’s benefits extend beyond Ermineskin First Nation, one of four First Nations at Maskwacis, 20 km north of Ponoka.

“Our nation is looking to do the best it can in business. It’s competitive, but at the same time, what is good for us is good for the region.

“If we’re creating jobs, we’re going to be building up our economy. And if you look at our region right now, we need to continue to create opportunities and jobs.”

Electricity prices are rock bottom right now, in the six to nine cents per kilowatt hour range. During the oilsands boom, when power demand was skyrocketing, the price was in the 16 to 18 cent range.

That means there is a lot of room for bigger returns for Ermineskin in the future, especially if pipelines such as TransMountain get going or the oilsands pick up again.

The band is so confident that Sundancer will prove a success that there are plans to double it in size. By next summer, a $1.5-million to $1.7-million project funded by the band will be built on another six acres nearby.

Minde said the project is an example of the community’s connection with the environment being used to create opportunities and embracing technologies that will likely figure large in the world’s energy future.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province should set mask policy, says city councillor

Digital conference will raise issues of local concern

Education taxes, ambulance dispatch concern Red Deer city councillors at AUMA meeting

The digital convention will raise issues of local concern

High school’s student’s anti-racism video offers hope

Jose Jordan got dozens of high school students to participate

Trail closed near Red Deer water treatment plant until Nov. 1

Construction on intake in river continuing

Red Deer Public Schools balancing in-class and in-home learning

Teachers hired specifically for in-home learning

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Missionary plane dedicated at Ponoka, Lacombe airports

MiracleAir flies humanitarian missions to Nicaragua

Back to school preparations put staff and students at risk

A greater percentage of parents in Alberta have chosen online education than in any other province

Michael Dawe: Battle against Typhoid fever was hard for Red Deer to win

Much of Red Deer and central Alberta’s history included outbreaks of serious contagious diseases

Father Henri Voisin School student remembered

Julie Burke Memorial Bench unveiled

Adversity just part of a ‘weird year’ for Montreal Impact: Thierry Henry

Impact look to rebound when they visit the New England Revolution

Tokyo Olympics CEO suggests relaxed entry rules for athletes

IOC consider many scenarios for how games can open on July 23, 2021

Elton John announces new North American dates for final tour

‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour’ returns in 2022

Most Read