After receiving a Community Energy Baseline Study from the Pembina Institute in 2008, North Spirit Lake decided to make reducing diesel fuel consumption a priority. The study showed that about 81% (1,835 tonnes) of the community’s carbon dioxide emissions were directly or indirectly attributable to fossil fuel burning. Of these carbon dioxide emissions, 53% (1,151 tonnes) were from diesel used to generate electricity, 14% (301 tonnes) were from fuel oil used for heating and an additional 14% were from gasoline used to generate electricity.
The community determined that photovoltaic (PV) technology could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions via decreased diesel consumption. As such, Chief Caroline Keesick, a strong supporter of education in her community, selected the local school for a 20kW rooftop PV installation. The system is expected to produce 23.7MWh of electricity annually, and any electricity production in excess of the school’s demand is available for the community’s local electricity grid. Not only does the school’s rooftop solar installation provide a more environmentally-friendly source of energy, reduce diesel expenditures and lessen electricity grid strain, it also creates opportunities for local operation and maintenance jobs.