Reducing dependence on diesel power led to economic diversification for this First Nations community.
Fort Chipewyan is an off-grid community that normally has only a 3-month window to bring in all the diesel fuel needed to power the community for a year. That is changing.
Jason Schulz is Director of Strategic Advisory Services, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and he not only sees the environmental benefits of renewable energy, but the economic opportunities presented by energy diversification as well. He led ACFN’s effort to invest in renewable energy to reduce diesel dependence in his own community, and to partner with Concord Green Energy to build renewable energy projects outside their traditional territory.
The federal government recently announced $160M for solar energy projects in Alberta through the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Concord Green Energy Partnership was one of the projects included in the announcement and the funding will help add battery storage capacity to existing solar arrays in the province. Those solar arrays were built largely by Indigenous workers and Jason expects the same training and employment benefits for the battery storage project.
Freelance broadcaster Don Hill talked with Jason Schulz about the new project and about the ACFN journey that started with a need to diversify the community’s energy sources and has led to business and economic diversification as well.
Solar project images courtesy of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.