SIX NATIONS — Six Nations is set to become a partner in the biggest battery storage installation project in Canadian history.
Three years after negotiations with NRStor first began, the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation is now gathering community feedback on the Oneida Energy Storage (OES) project that is expected to bring at least $1 million a year in profits to the community.
“This type of project has never been done on this scale in Ontario, or in Canada, frankly,” said Matt Jamieson, president and CEO of SNGRDC.
Jamieson and NRStor Chief Development Officer Jason Rioux bumped into each other in 2017 at a business function. They knew each other from other business dealings in the past. It led to a discussion that resulted in the OES project coming to fruition today.
“We were talking about what the value of energy storage would be in the grid,” said Jamieson, adding that NRStor is one of Canada’s most successful energy storage companies.
“They’re really on the cutting edge of energy storage.”
Once the two started talking about the opportunities of energy storage in Ontario, it evolved to a discussion to working together on a solution for savings and lowering greenhouse gases in the province.
“We ultimately arrived at Oneida Energy Storage solutions,” said Jamieson.
There are smaller scale lithium ion storage projects in existence but Jamieson said, “this one’s unique in that it’s something that’s called a grid-facing solution. It’s a battery that services the power grid.”
Typically, battery installations are focused on specific users, like individual homeowners storing solar power from their roof panels for use at night.
“What this is, is a big huge battery system that takes power from the grid…when the grid doesn’t use what is being generated, stores it, and when the grid needs it, we turn it on and it supplies infinite power solutions to the grid. That’s important for the grid,” Jamieson said, considering the peaks and valleys of power generation in the province, especially on wind and solar installations that fluctuate according to weather patterns.
The system operator always struggles to match supply and demand, said Jamieson.
Because there’s so much unpredictability in the demand for power, the grid operator builds new energy producing plants, such as gas-powered plants, in case they might need that energy. But those facilities produce greenhouse gases whereas OES does not.
Ontario generates enough power for the province’s demand, said Jamieson, just not at the right time. This project would assist in supplying the energy demands when needed.
“It allows us to harness the energy when we don’t need it and provide it when we do.”
The project will also reduce the need to build new gas plants in the future, cutting 4.1 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in Ontario over the project’s estimated 20-year lifespan.
“It’s really an environment winner from our perspective,” said Jamieson. “And it’s innovative. It’s never been done on this scale before.”
Six Nations will partner 50/50 with NRStor in the project, with expected revenues of at least $1 million a year for 20 years.
“It positions us very favourably as a community that is doing our part to help maximize efficiency and to reduce impacts on the environment,” said Jamieson. “That’s why we’re doing it.”
The project will result in $760 million in savings to Ontario ratepayers, 900,000 hours of local employment and a 4.1 million tonne reduction in carbon dioxide over the estimated 20-year lifespan of the project.
Revenues from the project will also be transferred to the community via the Economic Development Trust Fund.
The development corporation is looking for community feedback on the project and is holding a series of online community engagement sessions from now until the end of the month.
Jamieson said the project does not sit on the contentious Haldimand Tract, a plot of disputed Six Nations land six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source. Rather, the 10-acre plot in Jarvis, just south of Six Nations, sits within the broader 1701 Nanfan Treaty area, a portion of land that spans across southern Ontario and part of the United States surrounding the Great Lakes. The Six Nations Confederacy is a signatory to the 1701 Nanfan Treaty.
Jamieson said the development corporation has yet to secure a loan for the project’s capital cost but he expects that will happen by the spring.
Six Nations will make the money back plus some every year, he said. The $1 million a year figure is yearly net profit, said Jamieson.
Preliminary archaeological and environmental work has also been conducted with no significant findings to date, Jamieson said.
There are two online community sessions today (Wednesday) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Interested community members can register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by following the link at www.snfuture.com/projects/oneida-energy-storage/
Two more sessions are planned for Feb. 17 and Feb. 24.