Northern College Launches First Mechanical Operator; Biomass Heating Systems Program in Ontario

August 11, 2022

MOOSONEE, ON: Northern College, in partnership with James Bay Aski Ishkotaykan Bio Utility, and Commercial Bioenergy Inc., is pleased to announce the new Mechanical Operator:  Biomass Heating Systems program – a first for the province – at the Moosonee Campus.

Participants will learn the fundamental understandings of Biomass heating technologies while receiving hands-on experience operating and maintaining equipment.

“Northern College is proud to be the first post-secondary institution in the province to deliver a program like this one,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Northern College President and CEO. “Like most remote northern communities, Moosonee requires unique energy solutions that overcome many challenges, from cost to accessibility to sustainability and reliability”

To make this program possible Northern College, with the generous support of James Bay Aski Ishkotaykan Bio Utility, has installed a working biomass heating boiler system which will be used as part of a state-of-the-art training facility, giving students a realistic and practical hands-on approach to their learning so they are job-ready upon program completion.

“This is an exciting development for the Moosonee Campus,” stated Diane Ryder, Moosonee Campus Manager for Northern College. “Northern College continues to diversify its training opportunities to meet the demands of the region. We support the commitment to reduce carbon emissions; biomass heating plays an important role to accomplish this.”

Biomass promotes economic development through a circular economy. Communities can become less dependent on non-local resources for everyday needs. All while creating new jobs in maintenance and equipment repair, wood ordering, transportation, and administration.

“We are proud in taking this first step towards providing energy security for our community,” said Stan Kapashesit, Director of Economic Development for Moose Cree First Nation. “The idea of providing biomass training and skills is the first step in building a lasting industry that provides for a sustainable energy future.”

“First Nations are taking control of their energy future,” said Robert Manseau, President of Commercial Bioenergy Inc. “This program is a critical step towards building community-based bioenergy projects and we are happy to provide support in this important initiative; We see firsthand that jobs are waiting for graduates.”

The program will deliver micro-credentials for students, including Trade Readiness, Health & Safety, Technical Communications & Calculations, Biomass Fuel Manufacturing, and Biomass Operation and Management.

The program takes place over a 14-week period, with its first intake beginning in September of this year.


About Biomass Heating:

Biomass is a sustainable, carbon-neutral heating source. It utilizes the waste material from wood production for energy. All manufacturing residues obtained and used in heating applications sustainable sources as per Ontario regulations. Biomass has become a cost-efficient heating alternative, which presents the opportunity to reduce the use of fossil fuels such as propane and diesel.

About the Bio Utility Movement:

As costs climb and the provision of sustainable energy becomes an important priority for rural and remote communities, Indigenous leaders are taking proactive steps to assure energy security by establishing Bio-Utilities that build and manage district heating networks.  The utilities are majority owned Indigenous entities that create jobs, recover profits from heating by avoiding fossil fuels and maximizes wood flow from their sister forestry operations. To date, Moose Cree First Nation and Five Nations Development have created such Utilities in partnership with Commercial Bioenergy and another five are expected to be realized over a short-term horizon.


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