The sky is the limit for Hiawatha’s citizens as community hub goes solar
The Hiawatha First Nation is celebrating a new solar installation on the Old Railroad Stop, the community’s flagship business and gathering place. The 22-kilowatt (kW) installation is made possible through support from BASF and Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading renewable energy provider.
“It is vital to do all that we can to protect Mother Earth and the air that surrounds her, and using solar energy is just one way to shift away from carbon-based fuels that negatively impact our world,” said Hiawatha’s Chief Laurie Carr. “We partnered with BASF and Bullfrog Power to do our part in switching to a renewable energy source. The use of solar energy at our Old Railroad Stop will not only reduce the emissions from carbon-based fuels but will also provide significant savings on energy costs. This is our first step in using renewable energy as a First Nation and the use of renewable energy sources will be included in all our future planning.”
The Old Railroad Stop solar installation will generate enough carbon-free energy to meet approximately 14 percent of the building’s overall electricity requirements annually. In addition to providing environmental benefits, the solar project is expected to save the Hiawatha First Nation community approximately $154,000 in energy costs over the next 25 years.
Built on the location of an old train station and grocery store dating back to the 1850s, the multi-use facility sits in the heart of the community. It is a gathering place that houses a convenience store, gift shop, gas bar, restaurant and museum. Many members of the community worked their first jobs at The Old Railroad Stop, particularly during the busy summer months. The site essentially functions as a job-training center for local youth and continues to provide employment opportunities for many of them.
“Integrating renewable energy into the landscape of Hiawatha enables the community to craft their own vision for environmental sustainability,” said Marcelo Lu, President of BASF Canada. “We’re optimistic about the future and supporting innovations that help cities use less energy, make the air we breathe cleaner, and turn ideas into reality; 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.”
BASF Canada has ties to the Hiawatha First Nation through an employee, Kirk Edwards, who also serves a Councilor for the Hiawatha community.
As part of its work as a social enterprise, Bullfrog Power has supported more than 140 green energy projects nationwide through its community renewable projects program. “With its focus on contributing to a world that provides a viable future with an enhanced quality of life for everyone, BASF is the perfect partner for this community-based renewable energy project,” said Anthony Santilli, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Bullfrog Power. “By increasing awareness of the power and potential of solar energy, this project complements a significant landmark in southern Ontario and we are proud to be a part of it.”