Fisher River Cree Nation Partners with Bullfrog Power to Lead The Way in Renewable Energy

March 30 2020 | By: Suha Jethalal, Head of Marketing at Bullfrog Power

Fisher River Cree Nation Partners with Bullfrog Power to Lead The Way in Renewable Energy

Fisher River Cree Nation is launching the biggest solar project in Manitoba. The 1-megawatt facility has almost 3,000 solar panels and was built entirely by Indigenous employees. The project’s focus is to generate revenue for the local community and inspire other First Nations to pursue renewable energy solutions.

The Fisher River venture is also the first solar project to generate green electricity for Bullfrog Power. When people or businesses choose Bullfrog Power’s green energy, Bullfrog injects clean, renewable electricity onto the grid on their behalf. That renewable electricity comes from wind, low-impact hydro, and now solar!

“This solar project is an important milestone in the advance of renewable energy in Canada, and we are honoured to support this community in making it a reality,” said Sean Drygas, the President of Bullfrog Power.

It goes without saying that a solar farm is an eco-friendly initiative. But this one supports the local environment in a few surprising ways, such as by housing beehives. Community members even planted wildflowers around the solar panels to help sustain the bee population.

The site is also home to an electric vehicle charging station donated by Tesla, and Icelandic goats that provide emissions-free groundskeeping.

The Fisher River community funded the nearly $2.4 million project with its own funds, a $1 million grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada, and a $750,000 loan from RBC. “Fisher River Cree Nation has been a remarkable advocate for solar energy,” said Tom Thordarson, Senior Indigenous Commercial Account Manager, RBC. “We are proud to continue our work together—raising awareness for the long-term value of renewable energy.”

Fisher River Cree Nation expects to pay off the loan from RBC in 10 years, after which they will start generating approximately $75,000 to $85,000 in annual profit.

The project has also led to training and employment opportunities for 11 community members. After completing a one-week training course, members spent six weeks installing panels on the solar farm. This experience could lead to further job opportunities during an expansion or at renewable projects in other communities.

The First Nation’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop at the solar farm—the community has trained 15 certified local workers to install geothermal heating systems. These systems increase energy efficiency and have already cut the electricity costs for 300 homes in half.

Next, Fisher River hopes to expand its expertise in renewable energy technology. “I’m hoping in the near future that we’ll have across the country… a lot of green energy initiatives happening,” David Crate, Chief of Fisher River, told CBC News. “It could be wind, solar, geothermal—technology is always changing.”

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