The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nations and the Government of Ontario to build critical community infrastructure and invest in clean and reliable energy, according to a release this week from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, joined Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power, Gary Smith, EVP Eastern Canadian and Caribbean Operations, Fortis Inc., and First Nation LP Executive Council to celebrate the formal signing of agreements to finalize the terms of Canada's support in partnership with Ontario for the Northern Ontario Grid Connection Project, valued at $1.6 billion.
Connecting 16 diesel-dependent First Nations to Ontario's power grid will provide these communities with clean, safe and reliable energy that will have a significant effect on the health and safety of community members and also expand infrastructure and economic development opportunities.
In March 2018, Canada, Ontario and Wataynikaneyap Power entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, in which the parties agreed to work together to support the connection of 16 diesel-dependent First Nations communities located in remote northwestern Ontario to the provincial electricity grid.
Wataynikaneyap Power is a licensed transmission company, regulated by the Ontario Energy Board, and majority-owned by a partnership of 24 First Nation communities in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors. To connect remote First Nations communities to the electrical grid, Wataynikaneyap Power will develop, manage construction, and operate approximately 1,800 kilometers of transmission lines in northwestern Ontario. For further information visit www.wataypower.ca.
The first of the 16 connections was accelerated through a $60.2M investment made by Canada. Pikangikum First Nation's grid connection took place in December 2018.
Successful implementation of the project will reduce the number of diesel-dependent First Nations communities in Ontario from 25 to nine.