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IESO Invests in Projects that Increase Indigenous Participation in Ontario's Energy Sector

April 29, 2021

Indigenous communities and organizations across Ontario are moving forward with plans to transform how they meet their energy needs, choosing cleaner, more reliable and more affordable options. To that end, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is providing $7.1 million in funding to 61 recipients that will support energy planning, renewable generation, energy-efficiency measures, as well as skills development and training.

By building local capacity, the funding will help enable Indigenous communities and organizations to manage their energy costs and support opportunities for their participation in the electricity sector. A broad range of projects are being funded through the IESO’s Energy Support Programs. These include a large number of projects that will help non-grid-connected communities accelerate the transition away from diesel generation by installing renewable generation and/or energy storage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving local resilience.

Several funded projects also demonstrate a high degree of innovation, and will enable funding recipients to meet energy, environmental and social objectives. For example:

  • Funding will enable Garden River First Nation to develop affordable solar-powered tiny homes for vulnerable single members of the community
  • At-risk youth in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations will benefit from a paid energy-oriented employment, skills and training program delivered by the Wabaseemoong Youth Green Living Initiative
  • 15 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
  • Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) will form a trained energy team to implement a comprehensive energy plan for urban and rural Indigenous people living off reserve in Ontario
  • Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve will design and develop a unique solar-powered trigeneration system to provide heating, cooling and electricity
  • And 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.

A full list of funding recipients is available.

Since the inception of the programs in 2009, the IESO has provided $44.8 million in funding to 164 unique Indigenous communities and organizations. The next funding window will open near the end of Q2 2021. For further information about the programs, including eligibility criteria, please contact

The IESO also offers a suite of energy efficiency programs for Indigenous customers under the Save on Energy brand, with new or updated programs made available on a regular basis. More details will be available later this year.


"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. "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."

"I congratulate all of the recipients for their commitment to improving energy supply and management in their communities," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. "Programs like the IESO’s energy support programs and energy efficiency programs create opportunities for greater Indigenous participation in the energy sector, helping to spur innovation and drive economic development."

"The Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek would like to thank the IESO for the Community Energy Champion funding. Now that we have been approved and will have our own local Champion on staff, we will have boots on the ground to monitor our community’s energy plan and also to make any changes and/or recommendations on how to conserve and use energy wisely," said Chief Melvin Hardy, Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek. "Our Nation has a high interest in solar energy and now that the Champion is in place, this will allow us to look into this source of energy, including how we may be able to offset some of our energy costs and whether energy can be sold back to the grid. Once again, a big thank you (Chi-Miigwetch) for these Energy Support Programs, which help Indigenous communities light our way to the future."

"OAHS is extremely excited to be a part of two amazing programs offered through the IESO. We cannot overstate the positive impacts expected as a result of the Community Energy Champion Program and the Education and Capacity Building Program," said Dan Gartshore, Technical Services Manager, Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services. "Through education and improvements, we believe our Energy Plan will take major strides towards reducing energy costs both short and long term for the thousands of people we serve. Not only will these programs have an immediate impact to our tenants but they will also create employment, educate staff, reduce emissions and extend the life cycle of our units."

"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 (CEC) for Alderville First Nation. "The CEC program has been invaluable. By utilizing my project management, research and sustainability skillset, and by taking advantage of the IESO’s assistance, I look forward to continuing to execute projects for the community and ultimately providing a significant environmental, economic and social return on investment to the community for years to come."


About the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO):

The IESO manages the province's power system so that Ontarians receive power when and where they need it. It plans and prepares for future electricity needs and works with its partners, including Indigenous communities and organizations, to guide its efforts.

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