Solar project in development for Upper Nicola Band

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A major solar energy project is under development in Upper Nicola.

The Upper Nicola Indian Band is working with the Okanagan Nation Alliance to bring to fruition a $500,000 plan for a large-scale 15 megawatt solar project.

Once operational, the solar farm will generate enough electricity to power nearly 5,000 homes and will be interconnected to BC Hydro’s distribution system. Any surplus electricity created by the project will be sold back to the provincial power grid.

“Once constructed, the project will occupy approximately 40 hectares of designated land within the Nicola Lake Indian Reserve No. 1 of the Upper Nicola Band,” said Daniel Manuel, interim CEO of Upper Nicola Holding Limited Partnership, the development arm from UNIB.

“The energy produced by more than 30,000 solar panels will be sold to BC Hydro and will provide economic benefits to the communities involved.

Funds are provided by the province’s Department of Indigenous Relations through its First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund. It was also recently announced that the fund will provide $30,000 to the Bridge River Indian Band for a similar project, and $50,000 to Ulkatcho First Nation.

The half-million dollars granted to the UNIB project is the maximum authorized by the program.

“We’re now at the point where we need to finalize some of the fine details with BC Hydro,” UNIB chief Harvey McLeod said.

The project is expected to generate up to $4 million in annual revenue.

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