T&D World Magazine

First Nation Partnership Formed to Advance Transmission to Pickle Lake, Ontario

Mishkeegogamang First Nation and the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen First Nation announce the formation of an important new energy infrastructure joint venture with Morgan Geare. Sagatay Transmission L.P. was formed to plan and develop a new 230- kV line from Ignace to Pickle Lake. The Government of Ontario has recognized this high-priority project in its Long-Term Energy Plan, released on November 23, 2010.

The $250 million, 300-km line is the first phase in a two-phase project that will provide urgently needed power to northern communities and business. It will enable the transition from expensive and dirty diesel-fired power systems that are commonplace in most remote First Nations in the region. The project is also poised to feed energy-starved northern industries, including the touted Ring of Fire mineral resource developments.

"We have always said that we must be proactive in seizing a leadership role in economic development opportunities that may benefit and affect our community. Our treaty rights and our traditional way of life must be protected. This project will cut right through the heart of our traditional territory, and so we are extremely pleased to be in a position to work to minimize its impact, while optimizing the benefits for our people. This is exactly where we need to be," said Chief Edward Machimity of Saugeen First Nation. The partnership is expected to deliver multiple employment and training benefits to the communities of Mishkeegogamang and Saugeen, in addition to an independent long-term revenue stream.

The proposed project would follow the existing right of way along Highway 599 from Ignace north to Pickle Lake, which will ensure that environmental and social impacts are minimized. The proposed route is also shorter than alternatives, and is expected to provide better system redundancy. Finally, it will enhance power quality for both First Nations, where power outages are the norm.

"It has always been the spirit and intent of our treaty to share our lands for the benefit of all peoples as long as the sun shines. For far too long, First Nation interests have been secondary to that of industry. The needs of industry must be balanced with First Nation interests. We will ensure that occurs," said Chief Connie Grey-McKay of Mishkeegogamang.

The arrival of Sagatay stands as a model and potential success story for the Ontario, where government policy has increasingly encouraged First Nation participation in the transmission sector. The partnership has immediate plans to make an application for a transmission license with the Ontario Energy Board.

With best practice governance principles in mind, Sagatay intends to be a responsible, commercially-oriented participant in the Ontario transmission industry. "We look forward to working closely with industry, remote First Nation communities, the Ontario Power Authority and other potentially impacted stakeholders to advance this project to the next stage," said Tri Luu, Project Manager for Sagatay.

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