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First Nations communities on the front line of solar power adoption

Kings-South MLA Keith Irving (left) and Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters chat during an event at the new Glooscap Community Centre. Irving recently announced the approval of solar projects at 11 First Nation communities, including Glooscap.
Kings-South MLA Keith Irving (left) and Glooscap First Nation Chief Sidney Peters chat during an event at the new Glooscap Community Centre. Irving recently announced the approval of solar projects at 11 First Nation communities, including Glooscap. - Colin Chisholm

GLOOSCAP, N.S. – Glooscap First Nation, along with nearly a dozen other indigenous communities, will soon be harnessing the power of the sun to help power their buildings.

Kings South MLA Keith Irving announced that 11 Mi’kmaq organizations had their Solar Electricity for Community Buildings Program applications approved by the province on Oct. 15.

“From wind to energy efficiency, Mi’kmaq communities have led the way on innovation and adopting new energy technology, and the result has been jobs and business opportunities throughout the province,” Irving said during the announcement. “Today, the Mi’kmaq are producing more electricity from wind than they use in their communities, and adding solar energy projects will only build on their successes.”

Irving said the three-year program, now in year two, targets communities, municipalities and organizations that are interested in pursuing solar projects.

There’ve been a total of 27 successful program applicants so far this year.

“First Nations communities have done a tremendous job, all of the Mi’kmaq communities are already net zero right now,” he said. “They’ve done a huge amount of wind projects. So they’re generating more electricity than they use, and these solar projects will compliment that.”

The Glooscap application includes a 70-kilowatt solar panel installation on their seafood plant in Yarmouth.

Glooscap Chief Sidney Peters said they’re also installing solar panels on their Glooscap Landing facility off of Highway 101.

“We as Glooscap are innovative and want to create opportunities and we see an opportunity there,” Peters said.

“It’s just another alternative energy resource that we should be tapping into,” Peters said. “It’s new to us and I think we can take advantage of that for the betterment of the community.”

In partnership with Beaubassin Mi’kmaq Wind Management, the province announced the following approved projects:

· Membertou First Nation, Cape Breton Regional Municipality: 72 kilowatts

· Pictou Landing First Nation: 72 kilowatts

· Bear River First Nation, Annapolis and Digby counties: 48 kilowatts

· Potlotek First Nation, Richmond County: 72 kilowatts

· Wagmatcook First Nation, Victoria County: 72 kilowatts

· Acadia First Nation, Yarmouth County: 72 kilowatts

· Paqtnkek First Nation, Antigonish County: 72 kilowatts

· Millbrook First Nation, Colchester County: 72 kilowatts

· Eskasoni First Nation, Cape Breton Regional Municipality: 72 kilowatts

· Annapolis Valley First Nation, Kings County: 72 kilowatts

· Glooscap First Nation, Hants County: 72 kilowatts

If all 27 approved projects are completed, Nova Scotia will add 1,617 kilowatts of renewable electricity to the grid, which is more than double last year’s total according to a press release.

All applications were overseen by the Clean Foundation, an independent procurement administrator.

The program will be offered for one more year. For more information on the program, visit http://www.novascotia.ca/solar.

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