Hiawatha First Nation hub adds solar power to energy mix
October 23, 2018 – Ontario’s Hiawatha First Nation has unveiled a solar panel installation on the Old Railroad Stop, its flagship business and community hub, which will reportedly generate 22 kW of electricity.
By Peter Saunders
Built on the location of an old train station and grocery store dating back to the 1850s, the multi-use facility features a convenience store, gift shop, gas bar, restaurant and museum. The site serves as a job-training centre for local youth by providing employment opportunities, particularly during the summer months.
Supported by Bullfrog Power and BASF Canada, the solar installation is expected to generate enough energy to meet approximately 14% of the building’s overall annual electricity needs and to save the approximately 650-member community about $154,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years.
“Using solar energy is just one way to shift away from carbon-based fuels that negatively impact our world,” says Hiawatha Chief Laurie Carr (pictured, third from left). “This is our first step in using renewable energy as a First Nation, which will be included in all our future planning.”
BASF has ties to the First Nation through employee Kirk Edwards, who serves as a councillor for the community.
“Integrating renewable energy into the landscape of Hiawatha enables the community to craft their own vision for environmental sustainability,” says Marcelo Lu, president of BASF Canada (pictured, far right). “We’re optimistic about the future and supporting innovations that make the air we breathe cleaner, especially when it comes to championing projects in communities where we live and work and reinforcing our commitment to build lasting relationships with Indigenous communities.”