Nearly three dozen households in the Taykwa Tagamou Nation in northern Ontario stand to save hundreds of dollars per month on their power bills with the installation of rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels over the next few months.
The project was made possible by a C$1.36-million grant from the federal Small Communities Fund and a $200,000 contribution from Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), Timmins Today reports.
“People were getting $1,200 hydro bills each month. It was either pay for groceries or pay for the hydro bill. We had a lot of community members reaching out to the band for support with their bills,” said Coun. Derek Archibald. The community, located about 20 kilometres outside Cochrane, ON, was paying more for distribution than for the electricity it actually consumed.
“We noticed it and we met with Jazz Solar and we told them our issues, so we came up with the idea,” Archibald added. “Now, each home averages about $200 to $300 a month,” more than an off-reserve house would pay, but still a major improvement.
The home solar arrays are the second phase of a $2-million community solar microgrid program that began with solar+storage installations on a public works garage, a community complex, a water treatment plant, a lands and resources building, and the site of the local Healthy Babies program, all facilities owned by the band itself, Timmins Today says.
Taykwa Tagamou expects the microgrid to generate 16.5 gigawatt-hours of electricity and cut the community’s power bills by about $4 million over a 30-year span.
Archibald said the project employed local workers and out-of-region contractors, and was slowed down by pandemic restrictions.