THUNDER BAY – BUSINESS – Hydro One Inc. (Hydro One) has taken a significant step towards a clean energy future and economic growth in northwest Ontario by submitting an application to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for the construction and operation of the Waasigan Transmission Line. With support from nine First Nation partners, this $1.2 billion infrastructure project is poised to bring numerous local economic benefits and foster sustainable energy solutions.
An Ambitious Infrastructure Investment with Local Economic Benefits
The proposed Waasigan Transmission Line will consist of two phases. Phase one entails a new double-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line, connecting the Lakehead Transformer Station (TS) in the Municipality of Shuniah to Mackenzie TS in the Town of Atikokan, expected to be operational by the end of 2025. Phase two involves a new single-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line from Mackenzie TS to Dryden TS in the City of Dryden, targeted for service by the end of 2027. The comprehensive project also includes enhancements to existing stations to support the energization of the new lines.
Enabling Clean and Reliable Electricity for Northwest Ontario
Upon completion, the Waasigan Transmission Line will play a pivotal role in providing northwest Ontario with a steady and clean supply of electricity, effectively meeting the region’s forecasted energy demands. Furthermore, this critical infrastructure will support economic growth, job creation, and facilitate the smooth operation of mining activities in the area.
Partnership with Indigenous Communities for Economic Reconciliation
Hydro One has fostered a strong partnership with nine First Nations, including Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation, and eight First Nation communities represented by Gwayakocchigewin Limited Partnership (GLP). These communities will have the opportunity to invest in a 50 percent equity stake in the transmission line component of the project. The GLP’s mission is to achieve meaningful economic participation for its First Nations while safeguarding their lands, waters, and cultural values potentially impacted by the Waasigan Transmission Line Project.
Tom Johnson, President of Gwayakocchigewin LP, expressed enthusiasm about the project, stating, “GLP First Nations support sharing of the land for this important Project, and will ensure development respects our laws, customs, protocols, and people. We look forward to continued progress with Hydro One and our people benefiting for generations from this partnership.”
Engaging Stakeholders for Environmentally Responsible Development
Throughout the project’s duration, Hydro One will collaborate closely with Indigenous communities and its construction partner, Valard Construction LP, to establish shared project values and expectations. The company has been diligently engaging with the community for over four years to ensure that the Waasigan Transmission Line aligns with community values and priorities.
Political and Industry Support for the Waasigan Transmission Line
Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River, Minister of Northern Development, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, emphasized the positive impact of the project, saying, “It’s clear that investing in the construction of the Waasigan Transmission Line project will bring affordable, reliable electricity to the Northwest region of the province while increasing economic, health, and social opportunities for First Nation communities.”
Kevin Holland, Member of Provincial Parliament for Thunder Bay – Atikokan, echoed the sentiment, stating, “Northwestern Ontario’s economic growth relies heavily on building strong electricity infrastructure to meet the region’s power needs. This investment holds the potential to enhance Indigenous economic prosperity while fostering overall regional development.”
The President of the Ontario Mining Association, Chris Hodgson, recognized the vital role the Waasigan Transmission Line will play in supporting the region’s mining industry, remarking, “Critical minerals are an important component to the success of the global energy transition, and our mines rely on a strong and reliable supply of electricity to unlock them. The new Waasigan Transmission Line will give northwest Ontario a competitive advantage to build a strong mining-to-manufacturing supply chain locally.”
Looking Towards a Bright Future
The completion of the Waasigan Transmission Line will be subject to Indigenous and stakeholder consultation, as well as regulatory approvals. Hydro One is currently incorporating feedback from its draft Environmental Assessment Report public review period into a final report that will be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks for review and decision.
As this ambitious project progresses, Hydro One remains committed to bringing reliable electricity to the region and fostering strong partnerships with the communities it serves.
For more information about the Waasigan Transmission Line, please visit HydroOne.com/Waasigan.