OPG, Gull Bay FN build microgrid
Gull Bay, Ontario: Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA) / Gull Bay First Nation (GBFN) and Ontario Power Generation announced the co-development August 16 of the Giizis Energy Micro Grid Project, a community microgrid that uses solar, battery storage and automated control technology to help reduce diesel use at KZA in northwestern Ontario.
The Indigenous-led project utilizes ground-mounted solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, and a sophisticated control system to help the community offset its diesel usage. A microgrid controller integrates the clean, renewable energy from over 1,000 solar panels and over 80 battery modules with the existing community distribution system. The controller will balance generation and energy storage to reduce diesel use by as much as 30 per cent. ALLTRADE was chosen as the general contractor for this project, which involved extensive integration with the existing distributor, Hydro One, and the battery energy storage system and controller supplier, ABB.
With the project now online, KZA’s development corporation, Ma’iingan Development Inc. (MDL), will be responsible for the operations and maintenance to deliver clean energy to their own community. MDL believes the community considers the project a significant step towards its long-term vision for energy sustainability.
The microgrid product is OPG's fifth development project with an Indigenous community and first distribution-scale solar installation.
Located on the western shore of Lake Nipigon, KZA has an on-reserve population of about 300 people who currently rely on diesel generators to provide all of their electricity. It is one of four remote First Nation communities in Ontario that cannot currently be connected economically to the provincial grid.
“In the last few weeks as we went into full operations we have already reduced over 12,000 litres of diesel with clean, renewable solar power. A true Gift from the Creator,” said Chief Wilfred King, Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek – Gull Bay First Nation. “I am so proud that the Giizis Energy Solar Storage microgrid will be 100% owned by our community. The impact of the Giizis Energy Solar Storage microgrid is significant and substantive, including: community-centred economic development and jobs; community infrastructure improvement, a healthier community; diesel and GHG reduction, and a stronger Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek community.”
Natural Resources Canada provided $2 million to OPG to support the project, which also received support from the Gull Bay First Nation, OPG and other partners. Indigenous Services Canada is also providing Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek First Nation with over $1.2 million.