Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is partnering with a First Nation government in northwestern Ontario on a tribal microgrid designed to significantly reduce diesel use by the community.
The solar and battery storage microgrid, being developed for the Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA)/Gull Bay First Nation (GBFN), will supply the nation’s entire energy demand. Located about 109 miles north of Thunder Bay, the tribal community has a population of about 1,150 people.
The KZA microgrid is expected to reduce diesel use by more than 29,000 gallons per year. This will avoid 340 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Once the tribal microgrid begins operating, KZA will become owner and operator. Wilfred King, KZA chief, said that the community will share knowledge gleaned from operating the microgrid with other tribes. He described the microgrid as in keeping with “our peoples’ connection with the land.”
The installation reflects a growing number of tribal microgrid projects in the U.S. and Canada, among them Blue Lake Rancheria in Humboldt County, California, the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe reservation near Lake Havasu, Calif., and others in various Alaskan and Canadian communities.
“Providing First Nations with a clean and reliable supply of energy is a priority for the Ontario government,” said Glenn Thibeault, Ontario’s energy minister. “I applaud the partnership between Ontario Power Generation, the province’s largest energy provider, and Gull Bay First Nation to build an advanced renewable microgrid that will provide Gull Bay First Nation with a clean supply of electricity. The microgrid will reduce Gull Bay First Nation’s reliance on diesel power generation and is already creating job opportunities for the community.”
OPG, which plans to begin construction this spring, will manage the contractors and oversee the development, design, procurement, regulatory processes, construction, integration, and commissioning. The microgrid is expected to be complete before the end of 2018.
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