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13 September, 2023

Des Nedhe Launches Solar Energy Project

Sean Willy, CEO of Des Nedhe Group, is expanding the company into renewable energy with the launch of Aurora Renewables GP Inc., where Des Nedhe is the majority owner. The venture, in partnership with Extropic Energy Inc. led by Jonathan Palmer, will start with solar projects and aim to expand to battery storage, EV charging, and microgrids in Saskatchewan and potentially beyond.

Willy emphasizes the importance of generating own-source revenue for English River First Nation, leveraging the skills and market connections of both partners: “We at Des Nedhe want to support the First Nation if at all possible with own-source revenue,” Willy said. “We see the opportunities around renewable power across the country, the skills that Jonathan and his team bring with Extropic and the connections we have on the marketplace. It made perfect sense to form this alliance, build this partnership.”

Aurora is built on existing relationships and projects, such as a 700-kilowatt solar project at La Plonge. Palmer, noting the necessity for Indigenous participation in the solar industry, stated: “Step one is about solar,” and added, “There is a need for and an appetite for more Indigenous participation in this solar landscape. SaskPower is procuring solar projects that require at least 10% Indigenous ownership, but there are not a lot of strong players with Indigenous-led, Indigenous-owned design and construction capabilities.”

Des Nedhe’s varied operations include mining, construction, retail, communications, and investments in various industrial services. The new venture, Aurora, aims to generate revenue and create training and employment opportunities for English River members. Palmer highlighted the significance of involving the community: “It’s really about getting them involved and giving them opportunity to access and participate in renewable energy in their community,” he said. “But then also use that as a stepping stone to provide that to the rest of Saskatchewan, Western Canada, and beyond.”