New Programs and Projects Demonstrate Indigenous Communities Taking a Leading Role in Ontario’s Energy Sector

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July 14, 2022

A suite of new programs and projects are demonstrating how Indigenous peoples and organizations across Ontario are leading the development of innovative energy projects that will contribute to cleaner and more affordable electricity, and more prosperous communities. To support these efforts, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is providing more than $4.8 million to 47 recipients through its Indigenous Energy Support Programs.

The IESO is also launching the new Save on Energy First Nations Community Building Retrofit Program, which provides up to $100,000 in funding to on-reserve communities for energy-efficiency projects.

“Indigenous communities are growing their leadership in major energy projects and actively participating in Ontario’s electricity sector. They are also doing an incredible job building local capacity, creating new opportunities for youth and jobs in their communities. We are pleased to have these programs in place, and are committed to continuing our work with Indigenous communities and organizations and engaging in conversations that will support their energy, environmental and social objectives,” commented Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO, Independent Electricity System Operator.

IESO Indigenous Energy Support Programs

Indigenous-led projects receiving funding through the Indigenous Energy Support Programs will help develop renewable generation, electric-vehicle charging, energy-efficiency measures, community energy planning, as well as skills development and training opportunities for youth.

Building local capacity enables Indigenous communities and organizations to participate and take a leading role in Ontario’s energy sector while also empowering future generations. Awareness and education initiatives will lead to job readiness and energy savings.

“Many may not realize the vital role that Chief and Council play in managing and operating most of the commercial buildings in First Nation communities. The newly announced First Nation Community Building Retrofit program is a great opportunity for First Nations to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of band-owned buildings across First Nation communities in Ontario. Working at Michipicoten First Nation, where many buildings are older and in need of energy efficiency upgrades, I’m especially looking forward to participating in this program. Working closely with IESO and their delivery partners to share information and ultimately build capacity in the community, reflects our traditional teachings of sharing power—all while making our buildings more energy efficient and sustainable,” Gina Simon, Community Energy Champion, Michipicoten First Nation.

Some of the projects funded include:

·         Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek (Sand Point First Nation) will implement a pilot program to install two solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles. Lessons learned from this program will be shared with other northern communities.

·         Sheshegwaning First Nation will install 20kW net-metered solar systems on two band buildings to reduce energy costs. Savings will be reinvested back into community infrastructure.

·         Mississauga First Nation will use its funding to increase energy-related knowledge among its members and facilitate access to programs such as the Ontario Electricity Support Program and the Energy Affordability Program.

·         Sagamok Anishnawbek will provide renewable energy education to local youth through a partnership with Relay Education, a charity that delivers renewable energy and environmental education programs.

Read the full list of funding recipients.

The IESO closed its most recent application window on June 30, 2022 with the successful applicants to be announced later this year.

Save on Energy Retrofit Program

The IESO has also launched the Save on Energy First Nations Community Building Retrofit Program which is open to all on-reserve First Nations communities connected to the Ontario electricity grid. It provides up to $100,000 in funding as well as technical support to communities to improve the energy-efficiency of band-owned facilities and manage their electricity use more effectively.

A variety of energy-efficiency measures are available under the program, including indoor and outdoor lighting; heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls; and more complex retrofit projects in facilities such as arenas and wastewater treatment plants. The newly-launched program complements other Save on Energy programs supporting Indigenous communities including the Remote First Nation Energy Efficiency Program.

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