Skidegate Band Council Solar Project to be one of the largest in British Columbia

Skidegate Band Council Solar Project to be one of the largest in British Columbia

Skidegate, BC. August 18, 2017 – What will soon be the largest community-owned solar installation in British Columbia is destined for one of the province’s most progressive First Nation communities. 

Installation is nearly complete on 385 photovoltaic (PV) solar panels at the Haida Heritage Centre at Ḵay Llnagaay. Elders from the community’s Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) named the project Jiigawaay Naay Unguu which means “The Sun on Top of the House” in the Skidegate-Haida dialect. Much of Skidegate’s energy is generated from diesel generators and as of August 19th the state-of-the-art solar system will generate up to 100 kilowatts of renewable electricity. The electricity that this project creates will go directly into meeting the energy needs of the Haida Heritage Centre and any excess energy will flow back into the local electrical grid through the BC Hydro Net Metering Program. 

The community of Skidegate, home to roughly 900 people, is located on Graham Island on the island archipelago of Haida Gwaii, 160 kilometres southwest of Prince Rupert and 765 km Northwest of Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The Haida have long been responsible stewards of the land and waters that sustain them, and this latest initiative is another example of how this community is building sustainable self-reliance. 

Prior to the establishment of this solar project the Skidegate Band Council has been a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

 In 2015 the Skidegate Band Council began installing heat pumps in homes in the community to reduce emissions and costs from diesel oil and electric heaters/furnaces. As a result all 350 homes have been outfitted with these systems. Further to this, the SBC procured funds to install heat pumps into all band buildings.

There have also been two previous PV solar projects in Skidegate. Sk’aadgaa Naay Elementary school was outfitted with 24 solar panels and a 50 kW Solar power system has been installed on the George Brown Community Centre. As well, several solar hot water systems are in place throughout the community. 

While rain is a fact of life on Haida Gwaii, this area has a solar profile similar to that of Germany, a world leader in solar power production. This project will be an example of how remote northern communities in Canada can be leaders in renewable energy. 

The Haida Heritage Centre is a regional attraction for locals and tourists alike. In order to engage visitors in the project, the Skidegate Band Council set aside 12 of the 385 panels to be used in a demonstrative solar energy art installation. This “SolArt” piece will integrate Haida cultural values and artistry with renewable energy, involving local youth in the solar panel installation process.
“This project is just one more step towards energy independence.  The Skidegate Band Council is in the process of a feasibility study as the first step towards a solar residential project which will see 360 homes in Skidegate outfitted with PV solar panels”, says Chief Councillor Billy Yovanovich.

“Being involved in the communities we serve is important to all our team members. We are therefore extremely proud to have a part in building BC’s largest community owned solar project,” said Craig Ballard, CEO of Canadian Energy.  “Through projects like this, we strive to build stronger, more sustainable communities across Canada. We greatly appreciate this opportunity and would like to thank the Chief Billy Yovanovich, and the Skidegate Band Council, for their dedication and vision in making this happen.”

To mark the completion of the project and to celebrate this latest achievement in strengthening the self-reliance of the Skidegate Band Council, an official launch ceremony will take place on August 19th as part of the 9th anniversary of the opening of the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay.

For further Information contact:
Dave Cartwright
Director of Marketing and Communications at Cnadian Energy