The Government of Ontario is investing $2.5 million in new electricity infrastructure in Fort Severn First Nation, the most northern community in Ontario. Funded through the province’s Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), the investment will support the construction of renewable energy microgrids that link wind and solar generation to diesel generators. These high-tech microgrids will help reduce reliance on expensive and polluting diesel fuel. The project will be built and operated by the Fort Severn First Nation, a Cree community of 334 people.
The project comes as the governments of Manitoba, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Ontario recently announced a Pan-Canadian Task Force to reduce the use of diesel fuel in remote Canadian communities. In Canada, there are nearly 300 remote, off-grid sites, many of which rely solely on diesel-based microgrids to supply electricity to the population.
New infrastructure that reduces the reliance on diesel will help cut electricity costs, but also increase electricity capacity, an important issue since restrictions in electrical service growth inhibits economic development. This is not to mention that diesel fuel emits dirty greenhouse gasses and is hazardous to transport and store. Once the wind and solar capacity is installed, the diesel generators in Fort Severn will still be used to backup these intermittent energy resources.
The pledge is part of Ontario’s plan to funnel $130 billion over 10 years into public infrastructure development.