THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Wataynikaneyap Power LP (“Wataynikaneyap Power”) and the Government of Canada celebrated the signing of agreements that formalized support for the Northern Ontario Grid Connection Project (“the Project”). The signing secures the terms of Canada’s support of $1.6 billion for the Project which was formally announced in March 2018.
Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power, along with the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, Gary Smith, Executive Vice President of Fortis Inc. (“Fortis”) and FNLP Executive Council, gathered to recognize the significance of finalizing the agreements that will connect 17 diesel-dependant First Nations communities to Ontario’s power grid, the first of which was connected in December 2018. The Wataynikaneyap Power partnership consists of 24 First Nations who are majority owners and leading this Project in partnership with private investors led by Fortis Inc.
“Wataynikaneyap Project will connect remote First Nations to a clean accessible energy and set a parameter of how we do business. Finalizing the definitive documents will enable all partners to work within the intricate business model agreed to by both levels of government, First Nations and our partners. Meegwetch to Canada for providing the funding to Ontario on behalf of the First Nations and for supporting this very important project. It is a huge milestone for the 24 First Nation partners of Wataynikaneyap Power.”
The funding announcement, which was the culmination of years of ongoing negotiations and discussions, will result in eliminating dependency on costly diesel generation, supply clean and reliable energy to thousands of residents. It will also create new economic opportunities including an estimated 769 jobs during construction and close to $900 million in socio-economic value.
Among the multiple benefits of the Project, the resulting supply of clean energy is a highly anticipated outcome for both local residents and the country as a whole. “Clean sources of energy are vital not just for the protection of the environment, but also for the health and safety of community members. Significant work continues to connect diesel-dependant First Nations to Ontario’s power grid, and we look forward to celebrating the connections of First Nations communities to the provincial electricity grid by 2023,” noted Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P., Minister of Indigenous Services.
Industry partner, Fortis, echoes this sentiment as the Project’s weight and significance are realized with the formalization of the funding agreements. “It is an honour to help make access to clean, reliable energy a reality for so many Northern Ontario First Nation residents,” said Gary Smith, Executive Vice President of Fortis Inc. “We look forward to the Project’s continued progress with our 24 First Nations partners and are grateful to the Canadian and Ontario governments for their support.”
The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is an unprecedented First Nations-led project to build approximately 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines in Northwestern Ontario to connect remote First Nations communities to the Ontario power grid. The project will reinforce the existing transmission grid to Pickle Lake and will expand grid service north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake to ultimately connect 17 First Nations communities. Pikangikum First Nation was the first community connected to the Ontario power grid, via the Wataynikaneyap Power Tranmission Project in December, 2018.