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Chippewas of Georgina Island

Community Energy Plan

Note* The following project showcase is for a Community Energy Plan that was originally completed by CIPS in 2015. A second project showcase for the Chippewas of Georgina Island updated plan can be viewed at Community Energy Plan update.


The Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation hired Cambium Indigenous Professional Services (CIPS) to complete a comprehensive Community Energy Plan (CEP) for the betterment of their membership and for the environment (in which they live). Improving energy conservation and reducing energy costs are two very important areas that the Chippewas of Georgina Island would like to investigate. By completing a Community Energy Plan, the community can explore alternative energy methods that can achieve both, energy conservation and costs. In addition, the Chippewas of Georgina Island have been interested in the idea of renewable energy, recognizing the potential for economic development, positive environemntal impact, and opportunities for community engagement (for environmental initiatives).

By completing a comprehensive Community Energy Plan, The Chippewas of Georgina Island have taken postive steps to improve their future energy needs, understand past and current energy use, improve the communities knolwedge of energy use (and costs) while investigating the potential for renewable energies in the community.

The Goal

4 main goals have been identified which are as follows:

  • Improve the communities knowledge and to better understand energy use and its associated costs;

  • Develop a complete understanding (for the Community) of Hydro Ones energy costs and billing;

  • Engage the Georgina Island community in pursuing energy cost reduction strategies, (particularly for residents);

  • Transition towards energy independence in a practical manner.

About Georgina Island First Nation

The Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation (GIFN) is geographically located mainly on 3 Islands near the east shore of Lake Simcoe. The community is approximately 100 km north of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Georgina Island First Nation Reserve No.33 consists of four separate land masses. There are three separate islands (Georgina Island, Snake Island, and Fox Island) which lie approximately 3 km off the southern shore of Lake Simcoe, and a small acreage located at Island Grove on the mainland.

The largest nearby centre of population is the village of Sutton, which is located 6.5 km to the southwest of the First Nation.

The majority of our population resides on the largest island, known as Georgina Island. Today, 179 members of the total 618 band members permanently reside on the island's land mass of approximately 15 square kilometres which is 4.5 km long and 3.2 km wide with an area of 1,416 hectares (3,499 acres).

The Chippewas of Georgina Island are governed by an elected band council, consisting of one chief and four councillors. Our Band assets include an administration building, a health centre, a police station, a fire hall and a community centre.

Past Energy Initiatives

Energy use has been a focus of the community over the past decade, with a number of significant energy related studies and projects taking place. The three most prominent projects are described below.

First Nations Energy Conservation Project

In 2003, The Chippewas of Georgina Island participated in an energy conservation project in partnership with the Windfall Ecology Centre. The goal of the project was to lower the

disproportionate energy burden faced by the community. This goal was in line with a Ministerial objective to reduce the energy consumption in low income housing and reduce the load on York Region’s overtaxed transmission infrastructure.

Specifically, the project consisted of completing home energy audits, installing appropriate energy saving measures, and providing educational sessions on energy conservation. The program addressed appliances, lighting, building envelope, and heating systems. Over 70 homes participated in the project with the result being a 5% reduction in energy consumptions across the community. The project was funded jointly by Environment Canada and Green Communities Canada.

Pukwis Community Wind Park

In 2007, the community began investigating the possibility of constructing a wind farm on Georgina Island, with the goal of generating revenue and reducing the amount of non-renewable energy used by our community. The Pukwis Community Wind Park was intended to be a joint economic venture wind project between the Chippewa’s of Georgina Island First Nation and Windfall Ecology Centre, with the Ontario Government also participating in a funding capacity through its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.

The project was to consist of ten (10) community scale wind turbines, with a combined total generating capacity of 20 megawatts (MW), enough electricity to power 7,500 homes and displace 15,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The work completed included an environmental assessment, an electrical engineering design, a turbine micro siting study and a land survey for the development. In the end, the project did not move forward past this point, and while it was not completed to the final stages, it did demonstrate the communities interest in renewable energy projects.

Internal Energy Consumption Analysis

The Chippewas of Georgina Island have undertaken various energy consumption analyses on its own, in an attempt to track energy consumption and improve our understanding how energy is used, where it is used, and the components of the cost of energy. In 2011 the Band completed an evaluation of the financial impact of electricity delivery.

This project was undertaken internally and identified the cost of electricity and the delivery charges for that electricity for all Band owned buildings and enterprises. The study was completed in order to seek explanations for the community from Hydro One on why their delivery charges were as high as 120% of the cost of the electricity.

Type of Energy Used

Within the Georgina Island First Nation community, energy is used in the commercial, residential, and institutional (government) sectors. There are no industrial properties or operations within the community. Energy is required for heating, cooling, lighting (including streetlights), appliances, commercial equipment, and transportation.

Six main types of energy are used in the community which include electricity, propane, diesel fuel, wood and wood pellets, and fuel oil.

Given the Island nature of the community, natural gas is not available. The general uses for each energy type are outlined below:

  • Electricity – used for heating & cooling, lighting, appliances, and commercial equipment;

  • Propane – used for heating;

  • Diesel Fuel – used for transportation including the ferry and for residential backup generators;

  • Wood / Wood Pellets - used for heating;

  • Fuel Oil – used for heating

Electricity is the most commonly used energy source used in the community with 95% of residents utilizing electricity in their homes. Propane and wood are the second most commonly used energy source (32% each) followed by wood pellets (5%). Other energy types used include fuel oil and diesel.

Approximately 70% of homes were heated with electricity, with many of the homes being supplemented with wood heating. An energy survey completed as part of development of this Plan indicated that 37% of homes used wood or wood pellets (32% use Wood and 5% use Wood Pellets). Generally most residents use multiple types of energy, with the most common combinations being electricity used in combination with propane or wood.

The Energy Estimate

To estimate future energy needs (for the community), CIPS had to analyze the communities energy use including baseline and total energy use (in the residential and commercial sectors). The community baseline energy data for the Community Energy Plan was obtained in several ways.

The Band Office supplied information about the number of Band-owned and commercial facilities in the community, as well as an estimate of the number of residential and seasonal homes. The Band also provided the base information about primary energy sources of Band-owned facilities, as well as diesel data from the ferry.

Hydro One and other energy suppliers were contacted in order to gather monthly energy consumption data for each Band-Owned buildings. Hydro One also provided estimates of total electricity consumption per year for residential homes.

Residents were surveyed by questionnaire about primary and secondary energy sources used in the home. This provided significant baseline data for energy source and consumption in the community. The survey also gauged the level of community member interest in energy conservation and renewable energy.

By breaking down energy use by sectors, we were able to estimate total energy use in the community for residential and commercial areas. This included all residentail dwellings, band owned infrastructure (including commercial buildings) and the ferry. Our analysis also included an environmental impact report which examined the environmental impacts from various energy types

(measured in greenhouse gas emissions).

We identified certain factors that can have an impact on the communities energy needs. These factors include:

  • Trend of use energy impact;

  • Population impact;

  • Technology impact;

  • Energy behavior impact;

  • Climate and weather impact

Given the above analysis, the two most significant factors in forecasting our 2024 energy consumption were the historical trend and the projected population growth.

Consumption behaviour, technology impacts, and weather have the potential to play a role, however, their impact is much more difficult to predict. In addition, CIPS used a “business as usual” scenario, meaning that there are no (assumed) significant changes in energy consumption or generation. This allowed CIPS to remain conservative while estimating the communitites energy needs. In addition, it gave CIPS an idea of how much energy the Chippewas of Georgina Island will need (in the future) if no changes in behaviour or technology are made.

Given all of the above factors, a yearly energy estimate was given to the community (which included residential, commercial and band owned infrastructure). The energy estimates can be used to help the community plan future projects and identify opporunities.

Energy Generation

Moving in a practical manner towards greater energy independence is one of the main goals of the Community Energy Plan, and is supported by the opportunity of energy generation. This means that the Chippewas of Georgina Island would begin producing their own energy, and eventually produce enough (energy) to meet community needs.

The community has already shown interest in energy generation, first with the Pukwis Community Wind Park and more recently with the work underway to complete four solar PV projects on Band-owned buildings.

In order to continue to build ongoing community support for energy generation, there should provide updates to the community of the progress and ongoing benefits of the project in terms of energy generated and return on investment.

This will go a long way in creating confidence in energy generation activities in the community.

During the Community Energy Day, there was a discussion around the suggestion of breaking away from Hydro One and going “off grid”. Such an idea has also been discussed at a high level with Ontario Energy Matrix, the company currently installing our four (4) Solar PV projects.

The community is potentially a good candidate for self-sufficient energy generation, given its small size and island makeup. However, going entirely off-grid would be a long term process, requiring extensive research, planning, and a phased-in approach.

Possible renewable energy generation technologies include the following:

1) Solar;

2) Small scale wind systems;

3) Small scale hydro;

4) Bioenergy;

5) Landfill gas;

6) Geothermal heating and cooling;

The feasbility of using renewable energy sources must be completed first (which is out of the scope of this Community Energy Plan). This plan was originally created back in 2015 and there have been some updates since that time. To view the updated Community Energy Plan project please see this page here.

CIPS would like to thank the Chippewas of Georgina Island for allowing us to post this great project.

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