ONEC Group joins USask consortium bringing renewable energy to remote communities

SASKATOON – A unique University of Saskatchewan (USask) research program that aims to address policy challenges and socio-economic barriers to renewable energy development in northern, remote and Indigenous communities has received $500,000 from Edmonton-based ONEC Group, an engineering and construction project delivery company.

“Our goal is to reimagine energy security in northern and Indigenous communities by co-creating and brokering the knowledge, understanding, and capacity to design, implement and manage renewable energy systems that support and enhance social and economic values,” said School of Environment and Sustainability (SENS) professor Greg Poelzer, who leads the Renewable Energy in Northern, Remote and Indigenous Communities Flagship Program.

ONEC’s investment will help students and researchers develop a northern Circumpolar knowledge sharing platform, comprised of community energy plans, energy transition tool-kits, and a knowledge sharing platform for communities, utilities and researchers to facilitate long-term capacity building.

“We are excited to be a part of this important initiative by USask that will assist with identifying best practices for renewable energy to remote and northern communities,” said Denis Wiart, president and CEO of ONEC Group. “Our teams of engineers and construction personnel have greatly enjoyed working in the North and implementing these projects in collaboration with the communities.”

Founded in 2017, the research program is the world's first multi-sectoral partnership of its kind, with 14 partners including three businesses, four Indigenous entities representing 15 communities, six academic institutions from Alaska, Norway, Sweden and Canada, and one non-governmental organization, collectively contributing $1.5 million in funding to date.

“This research will enable knowledge exchange between communities, project partners and academic institutions around the world,” Poelzer said, noting that the Flagship Program’s expansive reach, activities and outputs will impact broad audiences and do so in a way that is meaningful and builds energy security where it is most needed, in remote and Indigenous communities. In Canada’s provincial and territorial North alone there are over 250 communities that are not tied to an electrical grid.

The program focuses on building meaningful engagement between industry and community partners and create processes and outputs that build capacity, advance energy literacy, transform understandings of ‘community appropriate’ energy security and inform public policy, while facilitating energy transition. 

Analyzing local energy needs, ownership structures and governance arrangements that will sustain renewable energy projects are key priorities for the research program, with solar and biomass being important renewable energy sources in the North.

“Energy transition in northern, remote and Indigenous communities must be co-planned and co-implemented with community members in a way that reflects local needs, values, and aspirations,” said Guy Lonechild, CEO of First Nations Power Authority (FNPA). “The FNPA commends ONEC’s vision and  dedication to transforming the energy reality for Canada’s First Nations people.”

About ONEC Group:

ONEC Group (ONEC) is an Edmonton-based project delivery company, providing multi-discipline engineering, construction, and project support services since 2000. ONEC’s business is about building relationships and encouraging long lasting success. Our business model is collaborative and engages local talent with ONEC’s supportive team in a mutually beneficial relationship. From concept to commissioning, ONEC’s diverse and talented staff will bring your project to life safely, efficiently, on budget, and on time.

For more information, please contact:

Bobbie Balicki
Project Co-ordinator
School of Environment and Sustainability, USask

Samantha Menzies
Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator
ONEC Group
780-440 0400 ext. 1031

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