TORONTO – Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has announced it is providing $7.1 million in funding to 61 Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs for energy planning, generation and skills development.
Some of the projects will help non-grid-connected communities accelerate the transition away from diesel generation by installing renewable generation or energy storage, stated a recent release.
Among the projects will be a plan to enable Garden River First Nation to develop affordable solar-powered tiny homes for vulnerable single members of the community.
Additionally, at-risk youth in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations will receive training through a paid energy-oriented employment, skills and training program delivered by the Wabaseemoong Youth Green Living Initiative.
Fifteen new Community Energy Champions will be hired, trained and given the opportunity to develop and execute local energy projects, which may include energy-efficiency measures that improve building performance, conserve energy and lower customers’ energy costs, the release stated.
Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services will form a trained energy team to implement an energy plan for urban and rural Indigenous people living off reserve in the province.
Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve will design and develop a solar-powered trigeneration system to provide heating, cooling and electricity.
And a team from Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation will be able to assess the feasibility of co-developing a major transmission line, which has the potential to generate new revenue.
“We continue to listen carefully to our Indigenous partners with a view to ensuring our funding delivers tangible results and enables positive economic, environmental and social outcomes,” said the IESO’s interim president and CEO Terry Young in a statement. “These are transformative projects, and we are pleased to work with funding recipients to create new opportunities and drive meaningful change that supports their identified priorities.”
“Environmental concerns are important to Alderville First Nation, and my role is to provide tools and resources so that the community may continue to adapt to local and global energy initiatives,” said Lori Lees, community energy champion for Alderville First Nation.