Wynne Government announcement rockets First Nations alternative energy to the next level in Ontario’s far north

ON AUGUST 14, 2015

The Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, announced today that the Ontario Government is investing $2.5 million in the installation of a 300 kW solar / 300 kW storage with controller solution in Fort Severn First Nation.

Geordi Kakepetum , Nan Deputy Grand Chief Terry Wabose, Ontario minister, the honourable Michael Gravelle and Chief Joseph Crowe of Fort Severn First Nation.

L to R: Geordi Kakepetum, NAN Deputy Grand Chief Terry Wabose, Ontario minister, the honourable Michael Gravelle and Chief Joseph Crowe of Fort Severn First Nation.

Through the province’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC), the funds will provide for the construction of a commercial-scale renewable energy solar microgrid that will result in significant long-term cost savings to Fort Severn, create training and employment opportunities in the community and will benefit the environment.  The traditional lands of Fort Severn contain the denning sites of the last two remaining polar bear populations in Ontario.

“Fort Severn First Nation now has the capacity to build Northern Ontario’s first renewable solar-microgrid.  This innovative and renewable approach will help reduce energy costs and environmental impact, as well expand business opportunities,” Minister Gravelle said.

Chief Joseph Crowe of Fort Severn said, “NOHFC funding of this groundbreaking infrastructure will help our community reduce dependence on fossil fuels, leading to cost savings and new economic opportunities.  We thank the NOHFC and Premier Wynne’s government for helping our community progress toward a future built on renewable, sustainable energy.”

NCC Development CEO Geordi Kakepetum said this project could proceed without this massive investment by the Ontario Government.  “The Ontario Government has been a strong partner in this project since Premier Wynne visited Fort Severn First Nation shortly after she was elected.  Without her leadership and that of Minister Gravelle we would not be here today,” he said.

NCC Development is the First Nations’ alternative energy management company, created by the First Nations which established Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO), a tribal council serving First Nations in Ontario’s far north.  Building on its capacity of KO as Canada’s First Nations leader in broadband, telecommunications and applications such as telemedicine, digital education and mobile services in Ontario’s far north, the Chiefs mandated Geordi Kakepetum to displace diesel generation by 50%. 

Over the last two years, NCC Development has build five solar systems in remote First Nations communities – with the largest being a 152 kW solar system on the roof of the Deer Lake First Nation Elementary School.  Since it was commissioned, the Deer Lake solar system has generated $100 thousand in savings to the community.

Kakepetum announced that the pre-construction phase of the Fort Severn 300 kW project will begin immediately.

Kakepetum praised the partners of NCC Development, including Canadian Solar, Hydro One Remotes, and Solar Logix.

“Our Chiefs had a vision,” Kakepetum says, “they wanted to reduce diesel generated power and replace it with the power of the sun.  Today, we are taking a giant step with the Ontario Government to make that vision a reality.”

Kakepetum says NCC Development is eager to share their capacity and experience in building solar systems and solar microgrids with other First Nations, as well as in developing FIT applications to bring solar energy to First Nation communities.  For more information, email info@nccsolar.com or visit our Facebook page.

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