Canadian Government Invests in First Nation Microgrid Project

Sept. 21, 2023
Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program will invest $175 million in 12 clean energy projects across Alberta, including a microgrid for the Montana First Nation.

The Canadian government is investing more than $175 million CAD ($130M USD) in 12 clean energy projects across Alberta, including a microgrid that aims to provide reliable electricity to the Montana First Nation.

The funding comes from Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs), which will invest up to $4.5 billion in smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects by 2035. The program is designed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil-fuel generated electricity with smart renewable energy and storage projects.

“The government of Canada is investing to deliver more affordable, reliable and clean power in every region of Canada,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s minister of Energy and Natural Resources.

Montana First Nation exploring microgrid possibilities

As part of this latest round of funding, Akamihk Energy, which is fully owned by the Montana First Nation, received $1 million to investigate consolidating its electric distribution infrastructure into a microgrid.

The funds will also be used to investigate energy flows within the potential microgrid as well as a meter exchange with the Alberta Interconnected Electric System, which operates the province’s electric grid.

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According to a statement from Wilkinson’s office, the funds will support Montana First Nation’s efforts to own its own energy supply.

It will also further Canada’s goals around reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

The SREPs Program encourages First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities to apply for funding by lowering barriers to participation. One way it does this is by awarding funds for smaller projects, such as the Akamihk Energy project.

Other indigenous projects funded

Other organizations were awarded considerably more funds for clean energy projects that are ready to move beyond the exploration stage.

Wind energy projects received the largest individual investments. Pattern Energy received more than $20 million for the installation of a 150-MW onshore wind project, while Innagreen received more than $17.5 million for its 105.4-MW wind project.

SREPs funding was also awarded to the Sawridge, Chiniki and Goodstoney First Nation communities. Winners include a 10.4-MW wind farm, the largest urban solar installation in Western Canada, and grid modernization projects.

Clean energy means good jobs

SREPs has already invested more than $160 million in solar projects across the province as well as more than $3 million in a grid modernization project.

Not only will the funds be used to advance the country’s clean energy goals, but the projects will create new jobs.

“Today's federal investment in Indigenous and industry-led projects … will create jobs delivering power to communities across Alberta as we seize the economic opportunities of a low-carbon future,” Wilkinson said.

“The clean energy future is here. It’s creating good jobs and more prosperity in Alberta and across Canada,” said Seamus O’Reagan, Canada’s Minister of Labor.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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