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Wataynikaneyap Power to connect 16 First Nations to Ontario grid


Wataynikaneyap Power is a transmission company equally owned by 20 First Nations communities. Photo courtesy Wataynikaneyap Power.

August 2, 2016 – Ontario has selected Wataynikaneyap Power LP (Watay) to connect 16 remote First Nations communities that currently rely on diesel power to the province’s electricity grid.

Once complete, the project will provide more than 10,000 people living in remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario with electricity, according to the provincial government. Watay Power says it plans to begin construction in 2018, once all approvals are secured, with the goal of connecting communities by 2024.

“Many communities are in a crisis situation due to limited generation capacity compromising the health and safety of the people. Today’s commitment, and the prospect of grid connection, will change the landscape of how we do business moving forward,” says Margaret Kenequanash, chair of Watay Power. “Our communities won’t have to rely on expensive, environmentally-unfriendly diesel fuel to provide power for basic needs like food, shelter and water. Today’s decision puts us one step closer to achieving the vision of owning a major infrastructure and having meaningful participation and benefitting from development on our traditional homelands.”

Watay Power is a partnership between a consortium of 20 First Nations communities and a transmission partner, Fortis Ontario and RES Canada (RES/FortisOntario).

The project is expected to create over 680 jobs, according to the province, during the construction period and save about $1 billion over the life of the project, compared to continued use of diesel fuel.

Watay Power’s next steps will be to apply to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for Leave to Construct, as well as to complete all necessary environmental assessment work.

The $1.35 billion project includes the grid reinforcement to Pickle Lake, and expanding the grid north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake to connect remote First Nations communities.