IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 59

Approximately 280 N&RCs are scattered across
Canada, and their population encompasses both Aboriginal
and non-Aboriginal groups.

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calculated avoided fuel cost, which could range from
50% to 60% of the total energy cost.
Subsidy frameworks: electricity rates and subsidy
frameworks are relatively complex mechanisms that
need to be properly considered to assess whether the
stakeholders would benefit from potential energyrelated projects. without any changes to the existing
subsidy framework or proper incentives, it is challenging to conceive re-based projects that would interest
these communities.
Unbalanced loads: in some communities during
light-load conditions, a three-phase distribution system can reach an unbalance of 10% or more. this situation can lead to premature generator failures from
undesirable mechanical vibration. if this situation is
encountered frequently, utilities may have to redistribute the load across the three lines depending on the
season, which is an expensive practice.
Winter roads: winter-season variations have a significant effect on ice-road conditions and their serviceable lifetimes, resulting in variable weight restrictions
for such roads depending on weather conditions. for
example, in northern ontario in 2012, the weight limit
was dropped from 80,000 to 40,000 pounds due to
reduced ice thickness; as a result, fuel trucks had to
be sent to rcs with partial loads. in addition, winter
roads are maintained by different parties, and proper
coordination is therefore required to ensure that vehicles can reach their intended destinations.
Community-operated utilities: obtaining energyrelated information for community-operated utilities
can be a significant challenge. these utilities may
also have different operating standards than their
provincial and/or territorial counterparts. As a result,
community-operated utilities are likely dealing with
additional issues on top of those previously mentioned.

Conclusions
A general overview of the different technical, economic,
social, policy, and environmental issues that need to be considered to properly understand the electric energy situation in
n&rcs has been presented. the main objective is to give the
reader a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities with regard to electricity generation in canada's n&rcs.
there is significant re potential in n&rcs, yet more than
july/august 2014

half of the people in these communities still rely solely on
fuel-based sources for electricity generation, mainly due to
the communities' geographical locations and low population
densities. recent re studies and projects have aimed at slowly
changing the perception that diesel fuel is the sole alternative
for such communities, but there are still significant challenges
involved in changing the existing energy mix to include significant contributions from re sources.

Acknowledgments
this project was sponsored by hatch ltd., with supporting funding coming from nrcan under the ecoenergy
innovation initiative program and from national science
and engineering research council of canada grants. the
authors would also like to thank Adarsh madhavan and
Andy wu for their efforts in data collection and analysis.

For Further Reading
m. Arriaga, c. A. cañizares, and m. Kazerani, "renewable energy alternatives for remote communities in northern
ontario, canada," IEEE Trans. Sustainable Energy, vol. 4,
no. 3, pp. 661-670, July 2013.
t. weis and r. seftel. (2013, June). renewables in remote
microgrids conference, Bullfrog Power. [online]. Available:
http://www.bullfrogpower.com/remotemicrogrids/
natural resources canada. (2013, oct.). remote communities database, Natural Resources Canada. [online].
Available: http://www2.nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/sources/rcd-bce/
index.cfm?fuseaction=admin.home1
canadian off grid Utilities Association. (2013, Jan.).
Association's vision and mission, Canadian Off Grid Utilities Association. [online]. Available: http://www.cogua.ca/
eng_index.html
P. de Koning. (2013, June). controls for remote microgrids
with high penetration renewable generation, in Proc. Renewables in Remote Microgrids Conf., toronto. [online]. Available: http://www.bullfrogpower.com/remotemicrogrids/presentations/session_3%20_hatch_energy.pdf

Biographies
Mariano Arriaga is with the University of waterloo, canada.
Claudio Cañizares is with the University of waterloo,
canada.
Mehrdad Kazerani is with the University of waterloo,
p&e
canada.
ieee power & energy magazine

59


http://www.bullfrogpower.com/remotemicrogrids/ http://www2.nrcan.gc.ca/eneene/sources/rcd-bce/ http://www.cogua.ca/ http://www.bullfrogpower.com/remotemicrogrids/pre

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