Wataynikaneyap Power has signed a partnership agreement with FortisOntario and Renewable Energy Systems Canada to expand grid connection to 16 remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.
"Our people’s vision is to own, control and benefit from major infrastructure development in our homelands. Through this partnership, we are changing the landscape of how First Nations can do business into the future," says Margaret Kenequanash, Chair of Wataynikaneyap Power. "Together we have reached a major milestone towards getting our communities off diesel generation, and improving the socio-economic situation for everyone’s benefit."
Wataynikaneyap Power, owned by 20 First Nation communities, holds a majority interest in the project, which is mandated and supported by community leadership.
The Hon. Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy, will attend today’s press conference along with several other key provincial dignitaries. "We acknowledge the ongoing commitment from the Province of Ontario to connect remote First Nations to the provincial grid, and thank Minister Chiarelli and his colleagues for their continued strong support," says Kenequanash.
"Establishing the grid-connection of remote communities is a top priority for Ontario, as outlined in our 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan," says the Hon. Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. "Congratulations to Wataynikaneyap Power and Fortis-RES on your unprecedented partnership, which has the potential to deliver real and lasting community results."
The Fortis-RES Partnership, selected through a competitive process as a qualified transmission partner, will work with Wataynikaneyap Power and will invest in the project.
"RES Canada is pleased to join Wataynikaneyap Power and FortisOntario in the completion and ownership of the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project," says Glen Davis, President/CEO of RES Canada. "This cost-effective and much-needed project will serve remote communities, reduce diesel subsidies, create jobs, and stimulate economic development."
"FortisOntario is honoured to be selected as the transmission partner for Wataynikaneyap Power," says Bill Daley, President/CEO of FortisOntario. "We look forward to a collaborative partnership for the development, ownership and the operation of these important connections to the remote First Nation communities through upgrading the existing grid."
In 2010 the First Nation communities partnered with Goldcorp, who provided early development funding. Goldcorp officially exited the project earlier this year.
"Goldcorp is proud to have participated in the partnership with the First Nations, and our support to date is reflective of Goldcorp’s commitment to create sustainable value by investing in the local communities close to our mine sites," says Chris Woodall, Senior Vice President of Operations, Canada-US Goldcorp. "We are confident that, with the well-experienced new transmission partner in place, Wataynikaneyap Power is poised for long-term success."
Construction is planned to start in early 2018; however, along with the Partnership investment, a firm government funding arrangement is required to make this project a reality.