THUNDER BAY, ON – Wataynikaneyap Power, a First Nation-led organization that aims to connect remote First Nation communities to the provincial power grid, was encouraged by the Ontario budget announcement of a Remote Electrification Readiness Program.
Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan identified the grid connection of remote First Nations communities as a Provincial priority. The budget, released on May 1st, allocates $3 Million to a proposed Remote Electrification Readiness Program. The program would include job specific training, health programs, economic development supports as well as business innovation mentoring to aid in the preparations for this infrastructure creation.
“The Remote Electrification Readiness Program would help our project to move forward and prepare our people to realize the benefits from this important infrastructure project, ” states Wataynikaneyap Power Chair Margaret Kenequanash. She adds “We believe this program is a step in the right direction for Ontario to meet its Long Term Energy Plan commitment of connecting remote First Nations communities.”
Electricity service in remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario is currently supplied by local diesel generators. According to the Ontario Power Authority, diesel generation typically costs three to ten times more than the average cost of the provincial supply mix, and requires significant subsidies from government and ratepayers.
According to the Ontario budget announcement, grid connection would support stronger, healthier northern remote communities by reducing barriers to growth, increasing economic development opportunities, improving social and living conditions for residents, providing cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reducing future environmental remediation liabilities associated with diesel fuel spills, and ensuring a more reliable electricity supply.
Kenequanash adds, “We look forward to continue working with the current government on their commitment to connect the remote communities. However, with an election on the horizon, we are anxious to hear the views of each party on this initiative. Whomever may be the next government, we expect that they will continue to recognize and support the importance of connecting Wataynikaneyap remote First Nations to the provincial power grid and that a Remote Electrification Readiness Program will help our communities prepare and benefit from this important infrastructure project.”
About Wataynikaneyap Power:
Wataynikaneyap Power is a First Nation-led company working to design, permit, construct, own and operate transmission lines north of Dryden in order to reinforce the existing grid and connect remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. Wataynikaneyap Power’s vision is to provide clean and accessible power for residents, businesses, and industry in the region and realize economic opportunities for First Nations. Goldcorp has made significant contributions to this endeavor. Wataynikaneyap Power is working with AECOM, in association with PowerTel and Deutsche Bank, to develop the project. More information about Wataynikaneyap Power can be found at www.wataypower.ca.