The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s latest project meets several of the bank’s mandates at once says CIB CEO Ehren Cory, including boosting the green energy sector, supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs and being shovel-ready.
The CIB will contribute $170 million towards the $500-million Oneida Energy Storage project, to be developed by Ontario’s Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation in partnership with NRStor Inc. Under the terms of the investment agreement announced May 19, Oneida Energy Storage LP, together with private sector lenders, will finance the balance of the project’s capital cost. Construction is anticipated to begin this fall.
Cory was joined by federal Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna and project proponents for the announcement.
“We are thrilled because as the minister said this project checks every box one could imagine,” said Cory. “It is a way to leverage Ontario’s existing clean power in new ways that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that improve economics for Ontarians, that make our grid more resilient, these are things we should all be proud of.”
The clean energy storage facility will store existing surplus baseload and renewable energy during off-peak periods and clean power would be released to the Ontario grid when energy demand is at its peak. The facility will also provide grid-balancing services and encourage renewables.
Oneida Energy Storage LP will be responsible for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the 250 megawatt/1,000 megawatt-hour facility.
The partnership will also create internship, training and employment opportunities for Six Nations community members.
Six Nations development corporation president and CEO Matt Jamieson said the days are gone when outside entrepreneurs wielding all the power could enter into business deals with Indigenous businesses. The alliance with NRStor enables the Six Nations to build on its existing renewable power projects, he noted.
Among the Six Nations renewable energy projects currently in operation or development are Grand Renewable Wind, a partnership with Samsung Renewable Energy and Pattern Energy; Grand Renewable Solar, a partnership with Samsung and Connor, Clark & Lunn; Niagara Regional Wind Farm, a partnership with Boralex and Enercon Canada; and Nanticoke Solar, a partnership involving Ontario Power Generation and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
“We want to partner with the best, because at the end of the day, we want to learn from the knowledge of our partners and benefit from the experience of others, frankly, to help find a development path that’s efficient, affordable and invaluable,” said Jamieson. “NRStor checks all those boxes. They’re a boutique firm with a proven track record and a highly talented team.”
NRStor CEO Annette Verschuren commented, “This is a big and exciting project. This will be the biggest project in North America and we’ll probably build it faster than anybody else.”
The CIB now has 17 projects in its portfolio with six in the clean power sector, after its recent announcement of the Lake Erie Connector project.
A memorandum of understanding indicating potential CIB support for the Oneida project was announced in January.
McKenna and Cory noted the federal government recently announced $12 billion in spending on four major GTA subway projects and the Hamilton LRT project, but those projects are long-term investments while the Oneida project will create jobs almost immediately.
“That’s great, we need to do the groundwork on those long-term transformational projects like transit, but we also need to work in the here and now and get things built, that spur recovery, while moving us towards our long-term goals,” said Cory. “So over the last six months that’s really been our focus at the bank, that’s why you’ve seen a series of announcements of investments from us and today’s is no different.”
McKenna said she just had a conversation with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg that morning and both said they could learn from the models of each nation, and Buttigieg specifically asked about the CIB.
“The U.K. also is looking at our models. Everyone has an opportunity to learn from each other. So I think that this is an example of how you can move forward,” said McKenna.
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