First Nations and Métis in Ontario will soon be able to apply to a new program to support participation in the province's growing renewable energy sector and help build sustainable and stronger economies for their communities.
The Aboriginal Energy Partnership Program (AEPP), which launched this week, will provide knowledge and support to help communities interested in building new renewable energy generation projects in Ontario.
"Ontario's Green Energy Act is opening up opportunities for First Nation and Métis people, businesses and communities to participate in the transformation of our energy sector," said Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. "Through this new partnership program, we are creating the conditions necessary for success by providing concrete support to build capacity in Aboriginal communities."
Current Ontario initiatives to support Aboriginal participation include a $250-million loan guarantee program and price adders for Feed-In Tariff projects in which Aboriginal communities have a minimum of 10 per cent equity stake.
The new Aboriginal Energy Partnership Program (AEPP), administered by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has three interrelated components - The Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund, the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Network and Aboriginal Community Energy Plans.
The Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund will fund some of the initial up-front costs associated with developing a new renewable energy project. The program will cover costs such as resource assessments, engineering studies, environmental and regulatory approval studies and business plan preparation. Qualified Aboriginal community projects are eligible for a maximum of $500,000 under the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund.
"The Anishinaabe peoples in Northern Ontario have not had the opportunity to advise Ontario of their own aspirations relative to their energy needs until now. The Aboriginal Renewable Energy Fund will enable First Nations and Ontario to define their partnership in practical terms at the community level. It will also enable both parties to harmonize their efforts successfully in a renewable green energy program for our children and generations yet unborn," said Elder Fred Kelly, member of the OPA's Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
The AEPP also includes the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Network, which is an evolving web-based tool that provides information about Ontario's electricity system, types of renewable energy resources and technology, the FIT and microFIT programs, environmental requirements, business planning, project development and project management.
"The Network will be a useful tool for those who are asked to develop a project in an aboriginal community. This website will be a great information resource for community members and students who want to know more about renewable energy and conservation in Ontario," said Senator Bob McKay of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
The Aboriginal Community Energy Plans component is still under development. When complete, First Nation and Métis communities will have the opportunity to identify energy savings, identify new resources and plan their future energy needs.
The ongoing evolution of the AEPP will be guided by advice and guidance from the Aboriginal Advisory Committee which is comprised of eight members nominated by First Nation Political Territorial Organizations, the Métis Nation of Ontario and the OPA.
For further information on the AEPP, visit the Aboriginal Renewable Energy Network at www.aboriginalenergy.ca/. The OPA began accepting applications April 28, 2010.