Garden River First Nation will receive up to $200,000 for solar-powered tiny homes as part of a $7.1-million funding package for Indigenous energy support programs from the agency responsible for Ontario’s power system.
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) announced on April 30 that it’s providing funding for 61 energy-related projects aimed at promoting energy efficiency and increasing Indigenous participation in the province’s energy sector.
According to Terry Young, IESO's interim president and chief executive officer, the agency funded a community energy plan for Garden River First Nation in 2014 and 2015, and has provided funding through its Community Energy Champion (CEC) program in order to hire someone within the community to help plan, implement and evaluate energy-related priorities.
The latest round of funding provided through the IESO Indigenous energy project stream will assist Garden River in implementing Niin Wigwamis (My Little Home), an affordable housing solution for vulnerable, single members of the community that will see the construction of 10 affordable tiny homes outfitted with energy-efficient measures and powered by solar panels.
“One of the outcomes of all this is to support them in the plan that they have around solar residential rooftop investment as well as energy efficiency,” said Young, speaking to SooToday Friday. “We’re working with a number of Indigenous communities in terms of really helping them become more energy efficient.”
Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) will receive funding through IESO in order to form a trained energy team tasked with implementing an energy plan for urban and rural Indigenous people living off-reserve in Ontario. The Sault-based Indigenous housing corporation has also been approved to hire three people through the IESO's CEC program.
"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 for Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, via news release.
"Through education and improvements, we believe our energy plan will take major strides toward 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."
IESO has provided $44.8 million in funding to 164 unique Indigenous communities and organizations since 2009.
A full list of this year's Indigenous funding recipients can be found on the IESO website.