Wataynikaneyap Power is being formed as a First Nation led company


SIOUX LOOKOUT -There is the start of another success story on a First Nation in Northwestern Ontario. That success is coming via a working venture that will allow First Nations to work together to make a difference in supplying electrical power in their communities. Numerous First Nation Communities are working to bring transmission line connectivity and green energy development to remote First Nation communities currently operating on expensive diesel generators across the region.

Wataynikaneyap Power is being formed as a First Nation led company to design, permit, construct, own and operate a 230 kV transmission line to bring additional grid connection to Pickle Lake. The Company is proposing a two-phase planning and permitting process to bring connectivity to the remote First Nations. The first phase would reinforce the grid at Pickle Lake and the second phase would extend the grid north of Pickle Lake to service the remote communities. Significant pre-development work has been completed, including a routing study for the new line to Pickle Lake (Phase 1). The Team engaged a transmission Consultant to evaluate five potential route options to connect to Pickle Lake. A preferred route has been identified and further studies will take place over the coming months. Community consultations and the commencement of an Environmental Assessment is planned in early 2012.

The need for this transmission line is supported by the Ministry of Energy as identified in the Long Term Energy Plan, released November 23, 2010 and the Ministry Directive to plan for remote First Nation community connectivity, February 3, 2011.

Early engagement and participation of all First Nation Communities will be key to successful development. Each community will have the choice to be an equal owner in Wataynikaneyap Power. Reliable power in the region is a direct benefit for all, while allowing those communities with renewable energy projects to sell their clean power to the provincial grid, further supporting regional economic development. The opportunity to turn off the diesel generators used in the region will result in a meaningful reduction of greenhouse gas generation while allowing First Nations significantly more power capacity to enable community development projects.

Chief Morriseau of North Caribou Lake First Nation states “All the Chiefs speaking here this morning, they are pretty wise, they know what they want. We all have common goals. We have a common issue here in this project. Everybody has a need for this project to move forward. … My community needs power … I’m very, very happy to have Musselwhite and other First Nations that started this idea of trying to bring power to the mine site and our northern communities.”

Chief Winnepetonga, Wunnumin Lake First Nation shared “My community can no longer afford the cost of expensive diesel power, together our communities must move quickly to bring transmission line connectivity.” While Chief Beardy, Muskrat Dam First Nation added “This transmission line would be awesome for our community, it would allow for economic prosperity and development of a run of the river project my community has been exploring.”

As a future customer of the transmission line, Gil Lawson, General Manager of Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine understands the need for additional grid connection into the North West region. “We need to ensure the Pickle south phase of the project is developed in a timely manner as the mine is currently supplementing power needs with diesel generation. As a First Nations owned business the new transmission line will expand economic development opportunities for the region with the First Nations in a position to see real benefits.”

Elders from the First Nation communities provided guidance to the group in naming this new power company partnership, Wataynikaneyap, which translates to “line that brings light”.

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