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Gitchi Animki Hydroelectric Project breaks ground in Northern Ontario


October 24, 2013
By Anthony Capkun


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October 24, 2013 – Community leaders, members and other project and public officials gathered recently in Northwestern Ontario for a ceremonial groundbreaking of the Gitchi Animki Hydroelectric Project, which is dubbed “the community’s largest economic initiative in history”.

“This is the greatest economic achievement of our nation and people in our modern history,” said chief Johanna Desmoulin. “This has been a long journey that has been motivated and energized by our people, who will benefit from this work for many generations.”

The project is being undertaken by the Pic Mobert Hydro Power Joint Venture—a joint venture of subsidiary companies of the Pic Mobert First Nation and Regional Power Inc. It is equally owned by the two partners. Sharing in the celebration were Pic Mobert Band Members and school children who shared their perspectives on how the project will benefit their community.

The project consists of two waterpower generating stations with a combined generating capacity of 18.9MW: Gitchi Animki Bezhig and Gitchi Animki Niizh. Once completed, Bezhig will also replace the function of an old Ministry of Natural Resources regulating dam that manages lake levels and flood flows on White Lake.

The developments are located in the traditional territory of the Netamasakomik People of the Pic Mobert First Nation, and was one of the first contracted under the Ontario Power Authority’s Feed-in-Tariff Program, say the partners.

“It’s been a long and challenging journey, but we have shared the Community’s vision from the start, and are delighted to have achieved this significant milestone,” said Regional Power’s president, Colin Coolican.

“The range and extent of support of assistance from Ontario, Canada and the Ontario Power Authority has been tremendous and timely,” said Norman Jaehrling, managing director for Gitchi Animki Energy Corp., a subsidiary company that holds the Pic Mobert First Nation’s ownership interest in the venture. “Beyond financial assistance, the support and contributions of the various levels of government, and local and regional stakeholders that we interacted with during the development process, have been valued, and we believe have contributed to a very successful project design and plan.”

General contractor for the project is Dragados Canada Inc., a 100% owned subsidiary company of Dragados S.A. the construction arm of ACS Group. “We are very pleased to have been selected to build this project for this community and its partners,” said Dragados’ vice-president, major projects, Pablo Quiros Gracian. “We are committed to working with the community and the surrounding region to maximize the local economic benefits during construction, and to ensuring a very successful outcome.”

Personnel and equipment are beginning to mobilize on the development sites that are located south of the Pic Mobert Community. Construction and commissioning is expected to take about two years.