Due to their remote locations, many Indigenous communities in Canada are not connected to any external electricity infrastructure. There are 175 Indigenous communities in Canada that are disconnected from transmission lines, 25 of which are located in Ontario. These “off-grid” communities usually use diesel fuel to generate electricity.
Diesel, however, is an open-ended expense for these communities and diesel generators produce a harmful exhaust that can cause health problems. Furthermore, the diesel generators producing electricity in many Indigenous communities are running at full capacity, meaning there is no electricity available for new buildings. The result is delays in constructing new houses and schools, which poses a significant problem for growing population bases, and restricted local economic growth.
To reduce dependency upon diesel fuel, DAI has partnered with several First Nations to bring clean, renewable photovoltaic technology to their communities. The electricity produced by the solar installations reduces demand for diesel fuel, which means lower fuel costs and less pollution produced by the generators.
In 2015, the Government of Canada began a renewed effort to reduce reliance on diesel generated electricity among rural and remote communities in Canada’s north. Deer lake, a small Oji-Cree Nation community in Northern Ontario that is party of the Keewaytinook Okimmakanak Council and the Nishnawabe Aski Nation, began working with DAI on the development of a 152 KW rooftop solar installation. A Power Purchase Agreement was negotiated with Hydro One Remotes, the contractual electricity supplier and certified training was conducted for the installation and maintenance of the equipment. In addition to the panel/inverter configuration, a demand and response system was incorporated to allow transfer between various generating sources in order to better coordinate supply with usage requirements. Working directly with the Band Administration, the Deer Lake Elementary School was selected as the site for the build and the rooftop system is currently producing 120 MWh/year of clean, green power.
DAI has a track record of success on projects that are not only multi-jurisdictional but present logistical challenges like extreme weather and isolated locations
Click on the projects below to learn more about DAI’s successful solar projects in Northern Ontario.