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Making electricity more efficient and affordable for remote Indigenous communities

December 5, 2019

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is launching the Remote First Nations Energy Efficiency Pilot Program to make electricity more affordable for remote Indigenous communities that will soon be connected to Ontario’s electricity grid.

The program is expected to provide significant, lasting energy savings while also improving health, safety and comfort. Participating customers will receive a home energy audit and installation of energy-efficient products such as lighting, insulation and pipe wrapping. Energy-efficiency measures will also be available to non-residential facilities, including small businesses, recreational facilities and band-owned buildings.

The program will serve four communities to be connected by the Wataynikaneyap transmission project in northwest Ontario: Kasabonika Lake First Nation, Wunnumin Lake First Nation, North Caribou Lake First Nation, and Sachigo Lake First Nation. Nishnawbe-Aski Nation will assist the IESO in delivering the program.

“Energy plays a critical role in the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of Indigenous communities,” says Terry Young, Vice-President of Policy, Engagement and Innovation at the IESO. “Through this program, Indigenous communities will enjoy lower electricity bills and safer, more comfortable environments.”

Connecting Indigenous communities to the provincial electricity grid is expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars in diesel generation costs over the long-term, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve local living conditions and spur economic development.

The IESO offers energy support programs and energy efficiency programs to drive broad Indigenous participation in Ontario’s energy sector, accelerating economic development and delivering improved social outcomes.

Quote from Minister Rickford

“This initiative is a great way to support residents who will be connected to Ontario’s electricity grid for the first time,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. “Ontario remains committed to working with its partners to ensure remote First Nation communities have access to reliable and affordable electricity, enabling people to connect to greater opportunities.”

Quote from Minister Walker

“Our government is proud to support this pilot program that will provide substantial energy savings to the people of these First Nation communities,” said Bill Walker, Associate Minister of Energy. “With the installing of energy-efficiency measures for both residential and non-residential consumers in the newly connected First Nations regions, an important investment in community infrastructure is being made.”

Quote from Deputy Grand Chief Jason Smallboy, Nishnawbe-Aski nation (NAN)


“NAN is excited to be working with the IESO that will see our communities undergo significant improvements in the safety, prosperity, and energy efficiency while reducing the cost of electricity of the homes and businesses that chose to participate in the pilot project. We hope the positive results generated from this pilot project will lead to a NAN-wide initiative as more of our communities become grid-connected in the near future.”

About the IESO

The IESO operates Ontario’s power grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring Ontarians receive a reliable and cost-effective supply of power when and where they need it. It works with sector partners and engages with communities across Ontario to plan and prepare for the province’s electricity needs now and into the future. Visit for more information.


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