Des Cultures Wind Farm welcomed by Kahnawake as model for future projects

·3 min read

The Des Cultures Wind Farm is being hailed not only as a boon to the environment and Kahnawake’s bottom line, but also as a model for collaboration that could be multiplied in the future.

The six-turbine wind farm, a joint venture between Kruger Energy and Kahnawake Sustainable Energies (KSE), straddles St. Remi and St. Michel, about 25 minutes from Kahnawake.

“The opportunities are endless. I don’t think we’re constrained to our borders,” said Bud Morris, president of KSE, which was founded in 2010 as a subsidiary of the Kahnawake Economic Development Commission (KEDC).

While the wind farm has been generating electricity since February, it was inaugurated at a ceremony on June 27 that was attended by representatives from Kahnawake, Kruger, Quebec, and other stakeholders.

“This will be the basis of reconciliation, that there’s a more equitable distribution of our natural resources and that the rightful owners can now really share in those resources,” said Morris.

Kahnawake’s stake in the $70-million project is 30 percent, although its total investment is said to be less than $2 million. The community is expected to earn about $1 million per year, an amount that could later be adjusted based on revenue fluctuations over the project’s 20-year lifespan.

According to Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief Mike Delisle, who leads the economic development portfolio, the idea has been worked on for the better part of two decades.

While he had at times been a self-admitted naysayer on the project, he is proud to see it operational. “It went through a lot of trials and tribulations, but to see it here today, finally and formally, is a great day for Kahnawake and Quebec and the two communities that it sits in.”

The project echoes the Hertel-New York transmission line, a collaboration between the MCK and Hydro Quebec to deliver hydroelectric power to the United States.

“I believe the only force yet to be harnessed by Kahnawake in these partnerships is the sun, so maybe solar is next,” said Delisle. “We have wind, we have water. We’ll continue to strive for sustainable energy development.”

The wind farm was made possible by a relationship that began 14 years ago when Kruger consulted the MCK on another energy project, which saw wind turbines built in the Seigneury of Sault St. Louis.

When KSE encountered issues trying to pursue the energy project that would become the Des Cultures Wind Farm, it approached Kruger with the proposal.

“They had issues on their project, and they came to us and said, ‘Would you guys be able to work with us, could we do that together?’” said Jean Roy, Kruger’s chief operating officer. “I was so proud to do it and so happy to do it, to help them bring it to fruition.”

According to Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) regional chief Ghislain Picard, projects like this one can be emulated to create prosperity in a sustainable way.

“It speaks a lot about the capacity for Kahnawake and the capacity for non-Indigenous communities to come together and find common ground,” he said.

Marcus Bankuti, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door

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