The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario have granted $1.6 billion funding to support the construction of the proposed Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line project. Intended to connect 17 remote First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario to Ontario’s power grid, the project is 51% owned by 22 First Nation communities, while Fortis owns the remaining 49% interest.
The Wataynikaneyap Power Project is the largest and most far-reaching Indigenous-led transmission project in the history of the province. Wataynikaneyap Power has played a critical role in leading this project. CEO Margaret Kenequanash has demonstrated leadership on this project for many years and her commitment to a better quality of life for First Nation people right across the vast Northern reaches of the province is well known.
Connecting 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. Reducing diesel fuel use will also lower greenhouse gas emissions and offer substantial environmental benefits and cost-savings over the long term.
- In Ontario, 25 remote First Nations rely on high-cost diesel generation as their sole source of electricity, which has limited community growth and access to economic opportunities with all the challenges of fuel delivery and environmental disadvantages.In 2014, a study undertaken by the Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator determined that there was a positive business case to extend the provincial electricity grid to 21 of the 25 First Nations which are currently diesel dependent.
- The Wataynikaneyap Power project will connect 16 of those First Nations (Bearskin Lake, Deer Lake, Kasabonika Lake, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Muskrat Dam, North Caribou Lake, North Spirit Lake, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Sachigo Lake, Sandy Lake, Wapekeka, Wawakapewin, and Wunnumin Lake First Nations), serving over 14,000 individuals.
Constructing of a transmission line to Pikangikum First Nation is already underway by Wataynikaneyap Power, scheduled for completion by late 2018.
- In order to address energy affordability, Ontario enhanced the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), and introduced the First Nation Delivery Credit (FNDC) providing a 100 percent credit of the delivery charge to on-reserve First Nation households that are customers of licensed electricity distributors.