In December 2016, First Renewable Energy Partners identified an opportunity for the Paul Band in Alberta to develop clean energy resources on reserve land. The primary goal was to spur economic development for the Paul Band, with the secondary benefit of generating a renewable resource without harming the surrounding land.
At the time, there were no government programs available for renewable energy on Indigenous lands, and there were many questions which needed to be addressed, from economic development studies to feasibility studies.
Solution and Benefits
First Renewable Energy Partners met with Paul Band leaders to formulate a plan to guide the community through all necessary steps to realize their renewable energy future.
Identifying the Opportunity
The first step was determining the economic impact of the project. Wind and solar development costs millions of dollars in up-front investments, but does not carry significant ongoing maintenance costs. Long-term estimates find an 8% to 9% annual return to be realistic, over a period of 25 years.
The unique opportunity presented by Paul Band was the designation of industrial land, which allowed First Renewable Energy Partners to propose a unique project on reserve without concern for land designation.
Feasibility Study and Next Steps
The feasibility study took place in May and June of 2017. Funding for the study was acquired when First Renewable Energy Partners successfully lobbied the Alberta provincial government for grants. This study helped get an idea for the work necessary for permitting and interconnect activities, as well as further financial requirements.
First Renewable Energy Partners then studied the area’s wind resource and conducted site visits. We also created a model to determine how much power could be generated, to ensure the financial capability met or exceeded the benchmarks for feasibility.
Following the lobbying by First Renewable Energy Partners, government grants are available for indigenous communities to study and develop renewable energy resources on their lands. This removes one of the major hurdles to projects like the Paul Band’s, streamlining the process in the future.
With renewable energy in ever-increasing demand and with new funding in place, we expect other First Nations communities to follow suit and develop their own wind and solar energy resources. No matter what roadblocks arise, First Renewable Energy Partners remains uniquely positioned to help make this a reality thanks to our specific expertise in this area.