The Lower Nicola Indian Band, an Nlaka'pamux First Nations government, has officially launched the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia. Located six kilometers west of Merritt, British Columbia, the First Nations community partnered with the W Dusk Energy Group to install 330 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Lower Nicola Indian Band School gymnasium. This momentous move towards self-reliance is but one of many examples of how the community strives to be responsible stewards of the land.
Home to over 1,000 members of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, the Lower Nicola Indian Band is made up of a community of Interior Salish peoples that have lived for thousands of years along the Thompson and Nicola rivers in the Southern Interior of the province. The territory’s location in the heart of British Columbia’s “sun belt” region made it an ideal place for a solar installation. The project is the first phase to make the community more energy self-sufficient and will likely be followed with initiatives to help community members add solar to their private homes.
The 330-panel rooftop solar array on the Lower Nicola Indian Band School gymnasium generates up to 85.8 kilowatts of electricity. Excess energy will be fed into the local BC Hydro grid. The school will integrate the solar project into the curriculum as an opportunity to teach students about renewable energy. The solar power installation was created in partnership with W Dusk Energy Group, the principal developer that specializes in working with First Nations community in renewable energy projects and other community development initiatives.
Images via W Dusk Energy Group