Indigenous-Led Solar Energy Project Wins Prize Funding to Implement a Community Clean Energy Project in NWT

News release

January 19, 2021                                        Ottawa, Ontario                                  Natural Resources Canada

Indigenous communities, governments, organizations and business, particularly in northern and isolated regions that are at the forefront of climate change impacts, are best placed to take action toward a clean energy future. This is why the Government of Canada is investing in community-led clean energy projects with remote Indigenous communities that are prioritizing a transition away from diesel while supporting the advancement of reconciliation and self-determination.

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that Grant Sullivan, one of 14 Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative (IODI) Energy Champions and current President of Nihtat Energy Ltd., will receive $800,000 in prize funding to begin implementing a community clean energy project.

Nihtat Energy Ltd. (NEL) is an Indigenous-owned and -operated business and the first to be awarded a prize under the IODI. NEL will use the prize to pursue a series of staged developments in the Beaufort Delta region in 2021 and 2022. These include implementation and training for a solar project at the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility (ISSF) site near Inuvik in 2021 and planning for a one-MW grid-connected solar farm in Inuvik to commence in 2021 and be completed in 2022.

Inuvik currently consumes the most diesel for heat and power in the Northwest Territories (NWT). Renewable energy projects in the NWT help communities realize many positive benefits — including creating a new revenue stream, enhancing local training and employment, and supporting energy security — which are aligned with the current priorities of both the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. With support from the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, this project is a great example of collaboration between Indigenous communities, utilities and governments.

The IODI is a $20-million Impact Canada Initiative aimed at generating new opportunities by reducing diesel reliance in remote Indigenous communities. The initiative was designed based on 18 months of engagement with rights holders, Indigenous organizations and stakeholders. The IODI is delivered in collaboration with the Indigenous Clean Energy Social Enterprise and the Pembina Institute. By working together with these partners, the IODI not only supports the development of clean energy projects but also bolsters Indigenous leadership in Canada’s cleaner future.

An external all-Indigenous jury selected the communities to receive funding and join the IODI. Each community receives hands-on support and up to $1.3 million in funding to develop an ambitious clean energy plan and break ground on their first clean energy projects. The projects may include renewable energy technologies, encourage energy efficiency, build community skills and develop economic opportunities in the community. Additional project funding of up to $9 million in total is available for communities participating in IODI through Natural Resources Canada’s Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities (CERRC) program, and Energy Champions may also seek partnerships with additional funders in the coming years.

The government continues to support community-led projects that will build a clean energy future for all. Together, we are building healthier, greener and more energy-resilient communities for future generations.


“Indigenous people and communities are leaders in Canada’s clean growth future. By working together with them, we’re getting good projects off the ground — and great results.”

Seamus O’Regan Jr.
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources

“The Gwich’in Tribal Council supports innovative energy projects developed by our own Gwich’in participants, like Grant Sullivan, for the benefit of our communities. These projects demonstrate how Indigenous communities and businesses, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, and federal and territorial governments can work collaboratively and creatively as partners and lead the way toward a more sustainable energy future for the North.”

Ken Smith
Grand Chief, Gwich’in Tribal Council

“Building strong partnerships with Indigenous governments, communities and organizations is critical to advancing the objectives of the Government of the Northwest Territories 2030 Energy Strategy including to develop a more affordable, secure and sustainable energy system in the NWT. The GNWT and NTPC look forward to working with Nihtat Energy to create a model for independent renewable energy generation that supports Indigenous business while helping to stabilize energy costs and reduce GHG emissions.”

Diane Archie
Minister of Infrastructure, Government of Northwest Territories Minister Responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation

“This prize funding awarded to Nihtat Energy Ltd. under the Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative (IODI) marks a monumental occasion for Indigenous community-led clean energy initiatives in remote communities while advancing our right to self-determination as Indigenous people. This is the first time in history that Natural Resources Canada has awarded prize funding to any organization, business or government alike. The IODI is a truly unique program that has given communities complete autonomy to design and build their own climate-friendly future to transition away from diesel. We are inspired by Grant Sullivan’s work, and we are honoured to work alongside Nihtat Energy Ltd. and all of the IODI energy champions and their communities.”

Darrell Brown
Chair of the Board for Indigenous Clean Energy 

“The Pembina Institute congratulates Nihtat Energy Ltd. and Grant Sullivan for their efforts and achievements toward workable diesel reduction solutions for Inuvik and the Beaufort Delta. As northern and remote communities work to eliminate the use of diesel power, initiatives like these will benefit local economies and provide leadership for others across Canada.”

Linda Coady
Executive Director, Pembina Institute 

Associated links


Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations

Ian Cameron
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources


Government of Northwest Territories
Media Contacts
867-767-9082 ext. 31046

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