ATCO completes Canada’s largest solar project in partnership with Indigenous communities

CALGARY — Canadians Utilities, an ATCO company announced on Wednesday the completion of Canada’s largest off-grid solar project in partnership with three Alberta Indigenous communities.

The project is reported to provide the Northern Alberta Community of Fort Chipewyan (Fort Chip) with clean energy, in addition to reducing local diesel use by around 800,000 liters annually. 

“We are committed to assisting our customers and communities in the transition to lower emission energy systems, no matter how remote their location,” said Siegfried Kiefer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Utilities. “Our solar project in Fort Chipewyan, completed in conjunction with our partners, is a great example of this.”

Partnership

The partnership is with Three Nations Energy (3NE), which is jointly owned by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nations and Fort Chipewyan Metis Association. 

According to a news release ATCO designed and built the two-phased project which includes a 600-kW solar farm, owned and operated by ATCO, and a 2,200-kW solar farm owned by all three Indigenous communities and operated by ATCO.

“This outstanding project showcases how industry and Indigenous communities can work together to develop sustainable and renewable energy solutions that will benefit today’s and future generations,” said Nancy Southern the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of ATCO .

“Partnering with Indigenous communities in a meaningful economic way is something we take very seriously. Together with 3NE, we are fostering community ownership and self-sustaining economic development through job creation, investment in infrastructure, and revenue from the sale of clean power.”

Fort Chip is home to nearly 1,000 residents who rely on diesel-fueled generation for electricity.

ATCO says this solar project will provide about 25 per cent of Fort Chip’s electricity needs each year by reducing trucking and consumption of diesel fuel.

“Our people have a proud tradition of making our livelihood from the sustainable use of local renewable resources. We are committed to being good stewards of the land for future generations,” said Blue Eyes Simpson – V.P. Fort Chipewyan Metis Association and 3NE Director.

“Reducing carbon emissions by replacing imported diesel with our locally-owned solar farm uses new technology to act on these values in a way that will increase our energy security and self-sufficiency.”

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