Manitoba Hydro signs power purchase agreement with first Indigenous-owned solar farm in Canada

Fisher River Cree Nation — a Cree First Nations community about 200 miles from the Canada-US border — officially opened its new solar farm in August 2020, and Manitoba Hydro signed a power purchase agreement with the community to purchase the electricity generated by the solar farm to add to the utility’s grid.

In addition to being first Indigenous-owned, utility-scale solar farm in Canada, Fisher River Cree Nation’s solar farm is the largest utility-scale solar farm in Manitoba. The 1-megawatt facility has almost 3,000 solar panels and was built predominately by local community members. Fisher River funded the $2.4 million project, receiving $1 million in federal support from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“Manitoba Hydro is pleased to support Fisher River Cree Nation in this project,” Jeffrey Betker, Vice-President, External & Indigenous Relations and Communications, said in a news release.

“The project helps diversify Manitoba Hydro’s renewable energy supply, and as the interest in solar-generated energy is growing, it only makes sense Manitoba Hydro partnered with Fisher River Cree Nation to learn more about how utility-scale solar farms can add value to our system and our customers."

According to Jamie Hopkins, of Manitoba Hydro’s Energy Market Strategies and Wholesale Power Marketing department, the project builds on Fisher River Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro’s partnership to advance win-win economic opportunities for the Fisher River Cree Nation community.

“These benefits include training and employment for many community members, the diversification of Manitoba Hydro’s renewable energy supply, and the continued supply of reliable, cost-effective energy for our customers,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins said the electricity generated by the solar farm goes into Manitoba Hydro’s grid and complements its existing energy supply, of which over 97 per cent is electricity generated with renewable, reliable hydropower.

Manitoba Hydro continues to consider purchasing non-utility generation to add to its energy supply as long as it provides value to our customers and the stability and security of our grid.