Application Window Open for the IESO’s Indigenous Energy Support Program to Support Indigenous Leadership in Ontario’s Electricity Sector

April 23, 2024

As First Nations and Métis communities are increasingly at the forefront of Ontario’s energy transformation, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is providing up to $15 million for Indigenous energy planning, infrastructure development and education to support Indigenous leadership in the energy sector.

“First Nations and Métis communities are critical partners in the energy transformation and the IESO is committed to building enduring relationships and inclusive partnerships with Indigenous Peoples,” said Carla Nell, Vice-President of Corporate Relations, Stakeholder Engagement and Innovation at the IESO. “The Indigenous Energy Support Program is one part of this commitment, promoting Indigenous leadership in the sector while moving the needle on energy projects that will support the growth and decarbonization of Ontario’s electricity system.”

The 2024 intake window for the Indigenous Energy Support Program (IESP) is now open and runs until August 30, 2024. Indigenous communities are eligible to apply for funding under one, or all, of the following streams:

  • Capacity Building, such as professional training, community engagement, youth and elder workshops and the hiring of a Community Energy Champion to help identify, plan and implement energy-related priorities for their community. 
  • Economic Development projects, such as renewable installations, transmission projects, storage installations, sector partnerships and capital projects.
  • Energy Resilience and Monitoring activities, such as energy planning, project monitoring, impact assessments and energy auditing.

“This energy support program will ensure that Indigenous communities can continue to benefit from new opportunities in the electricity sector while also helping Ontario build a reliable, affordable and clean energy system,” said the Honourable Todd Smith, Minister of Energy.

“The Indigenous Energy Support Program has been very beneficial to our community,” said Chief R. Donald Maracle, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. “With this funding, our Community Energy Team will be able to develop the skills they need to build and maintain our renewable energy assets. We will also be able to hire a Community Energy Champion to lead projects that will strengthen our energy resilience, reduce costs for our members and create economic opportunities for future generations.”

The Indigenous Energy Support Program is an important foundational step towards the longer-term goal of achieving fair, equitable and inclusive participation in the electricity sector. This is especially important as the pace of Ontario’s energy transformation accelerates and First Nations and Métis communities become partners that bring essential knowledge, experiences and perspectives to energy discussions.

For more information about this year’s Indigenous Energy Support Program, visit the IESO’s website.

Quick Facts

  • Since the inception of the IESP in 2009, the IESO has awarded $71 million in funding to 177 Indigenous communities and organizations. Some examples of past projects include training and skills building courses to work on large grid-scale battery storage systems, the installation of solar energy projects to support community energy needs and the development of local micro-grids.
  • Funding for the IESP was increased this year by $5 million to a total investment of $15 million. The extra funding will allow more communities to implement energy infrastructure projects.
  • Indigenous communities play an active role in Ontario’s electricity sector.
    • The Wataynikaneyap Power Project is a partnership between 24 First Nations to connect 17 remote communities to the provincial electricity grid.
    • Under the IESO’s Expedited Long-Term 1 procurement, nine of the 15 approved battery projects had more than 50 per cent Indigenous ownership.
    • The ONEIDA battery storage project, which will be the largest battery storage site in Canada, is being developed in partnership with the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation.
  • The IESO also supports Indigenous communities through the First Nations Energy Programs offered by Save on Energy, which cover community building retrofits, projects that help remote communities manage their energy use and energy-saving upgrades to existing homes.

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