Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project a 2021 Clean50 Top Project

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Frank McKay at Watay Power Announcement
Frank McKay at Watay Power Announcement

Fort William First Nation, Ontario – Wataynikaneyap Power is pleased to announce that the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project has been chosen as a 2021 Clean50 Top Project award winner. Clean50 Top Projects are chosen annually based on their innovation, their ability to inform, and inspire other Canadians.

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 17 remote First Nations communities to the provincial transmission grid for the first time. The project will reinforce the existing transmission grid to Pickle Lake and bring reliable energy to the communities.

Communities’ current diesel generated energy is insufficient, resulting in load restrictions and power outages. Inadequate power supply is lowering the quality of life, and dramatically limiting the expansion of remote First Nations communities. Connection to the power grid will provide cleaner and more reliable power to the population.

The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is expected to result in over 6.6 million tonnes of avoided GHG emissions over forty years, by replacing approximately 25 million litres/year of diesel usage.

“We are proud of this recognition as a Clean50 Top Project. Connection to the Ontario power grid will not only reduce diesel usage and transport – with stable, clean power available, communities are enabled to grow and improve community infrastructure and further community development including business and economic opportunities. Importantly, this huge undertaking is being led by First Nations, who currently own 51% of the infrastructure being built on their homelands along with their partners,” said Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power.

Eliezer Mckay, Chair of First Nations Limited Partnership, remarks, “When our first community was connected to the power grid for the first time, in December 2018, it was a remarkable thing. We are on schedule to hook up the remaining communities by 2023. This project is only possible through the cooperation, patience, and support of our 24 First Nation owners, who share the vision of building and owning a transmission line to bring reliable power to their communities. Meegwetch to the land stewards and First Nation communities for their continued support of the Wataynikaneyap Power Project.”

“We are proud to bring our utility experience to the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Power Project as we work with our First Nations partners to realize collective clean energy goals in Ontario’s north,” said David Hutchens, President and CEO, Fortis Inc. “The project is the largest First Nations majority-owned infrastructure project in the history of Canada, one which will bring many socio-economic benefits to the 17 First Nations communities who will be connected to the main electricity grid in Ontario for the first time.”

The Top Project of the year will be voted for at the 2021 Clean50 Summit from votes cast by both incoming and alumni members of the Clean50. Due to COVID-19, the Clean50 Summit and the celebration of this year’s Clean50 honourees has been postponed to an in-person gathering on September 30, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario.