|Article sponsored by Solar Academy International.|
The Curve Lake First Nation Reservation, located north-west of Peterborough, recently added 10 kW of renewable solar energy generation to Ontario’s electricity supply. The installations are the product of a seven week program jointly put together by Curve Lake First Nation, Sunrise Power, Green Eagle Solar, the Akwesasne Economic Development Agency (AEDA), and Ontario Solar Academy (OSA), entitled “Become an Expert in the Solar PV Industry.”
The program, which runs from the last week of September until November 12, allows First Nations entrepreneurs and tradesmen to learn the skills required to pursue renewable energy careers in the solar industry. Hands-on career training began in the first week with the installations at Curve Lake – OSA taught twenty-seven students the basic principles of solar technology and PV design, as well as important techniques to ensure a project’s safety. Additional weeks, to be organized by program partners, will include in-class tutorials about the business side of solar, including information about the regulatory frameworks under which students will work after they have completed the course.
PV Classes Part of a Greater Vision
The “Become an Expert in the Solar PV Industry” program is just one of a number of incentives available to Aboriginal communities that encourage the use of renewable energy. Ontario’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which pays participating energy providers high prices for electricity they feed into the grid from renewable sources, includes provisions for Aboriginal PV projects. Projects in which First Nations groups have a 10% stake or greater are eligible for price adders under the FIT; if the number is 50% or greater, a 5 cents/kW reduction to the application security fee may also apply. In addition to the FIT, the government offers the Aboriginal Loan Guarantee Program and the Aboriginal Energy Partnerships Program to help First Nations groups and communities benefit from clean electricity.
OSA is currently developing its own division to help Aboriginal communities make use of solar power and expose residents to new career opportunities in renewable energy production. The Academy is Canada’s only ISPQ-accredited provider of solar PV classes. OSA’s solar PV design and installation courses are taught according to NABCEP learning objectives, which are widely recognized across North America as guarantees of safety and quality.
The Curve Lake solar installations and the program that enabled their creation are shining examples of what is possible when communities, industry, and educators come together towards a common goal.
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