Six Nations of the Grand River is poised to become a partner in the development of what could be one of the world’s largest energy storage facilities.
The Oneida Energy Storage project, a joint venture between NRStor Inc. and Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corp., which manages the economic interest of the community both on and off reserve and invests profit back into the community, includes plans to build a facility in Jarvis.
Matt Jamieson, president and CEO of the development corporation, said the project has the potential to generate huge savings, while providing reliable, clean energy.
“We think this is a game changer from an energy perspective,” he said. “It could be a catalyst to build more facilities across the country and around the world.”
Jamieson said that although Ontario produces a lot of electricity, it’s sometimes too much and, other times, even with various types of power plants, it’s still not enough. He said good battery storage has been a long-time need.
“Ontario’s energy grid is a complicated system. What they try to do at any moment in time is match the power supply and demand.”
Jamieson said the frequently mismatched variability between supply and demand cause most electricity systems to be overbuilt to make sure the lights stay on. In Ontario, many facilities produce power, including hydro, wind, biomass and solar, but not always when it’s needed. That energy is either wasted or gas plants are needed to provide backup power when demand is high.
That can be expensive, said Jamieson, adding that the annual cost of providing electricity to homes and businesses in Ontario is about $22 billion.
The 250 megawatt/1,000 megawatt-hour Oneida Energy Storage Project is large enough to retain excess power produced at night when it is otherwise “dumped” and discharge it to the grid when it’s needed. Jamieson said this will reduce reliance on older carbon-intensive generators and the need to build new gas plants.
“With the flick of a switch it could supply power when it’s needed,” said Jamieson.
According to a third-party study, said Jamieson, Oneida Energy Storage could lower electricity system costs by up to $760 million over its lifetime and help lower energy bills for homes and businesses.
Through its more efficient operation of the electricity system, he said, the project will help Ontario reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 4.1 million tonnes.
“That’s the equivalent of taking about 40,000 cars off the road every year over the project’s life. From an environmental perspective, it’s the right thing to do.”
In addition to creating local jobs, the project also will be a boon to Six Nations, bringing together private and Indigenous investors alongside government and bring in at least $1 million a year in profit to the community, said Jamieson.
“Six Nations has been an early adopter of wind and solar farms. It aligns with our values as Indigenous people. We understand how the market works.”
Jamieson said NRStor, which builds, owns and operates energy storage projects across the country, approached the Six Nations development corporation in 2017 about the Oneida project. Work to refine the plan has been happening over the past three years.
The project got a major boost recently when the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Oneida Energy Storage signed a memorandum of understanding, with a final investment decision expected in the spring.
“The project has the potential of contributing significantly to our mission of achieving economic self-sufficiency for the people of Six Nations,” Mark Hill, elected chief of Six Nations, said in a news release issued by the bank.
Catherine McKenna, federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said “renewable energy projects in partnership with Indigenous communities are a great example of how our economy will grow in the future and how forward-looking investments can help Canadians achieve their economic and environmental goals.”
Jamieson said there are still some hurdles to jump to bring the project online.
“There is still work to do with the province. We don’t have a contract yet but there is strong interest. I’m cautiously optimistic about potential construction starting in the summer.”
An online community information session about the project is being held Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Register by emailing email@example.com or by following the link at www.snfuture.com/projects/oneida-energy-storage/