FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION, Ontario, Aug. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wataynikaneyap Power is pleased to announce the completion and energization of a 230 kV line, approximately 300 kilometres from Dinorwic to Pickle Lake, Ontario. This is the first part of the 1,800 km Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project that is being built to connect 17 remote First Nations to the Ontario power grid.
Wataynikaneyap Power is majority-owned by 24 First Nations, in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, to bring the ?line that brings light', a $1.8 billion dollar infrastructure project, to remote northern Ontario First Nations currently powered by diesel generators. Many of these generators are at capacity and not able to connect new infrastructure.
The new 230 kV upgrade to Pickle Lake will increase the load supply capabilities and provide the operating flexibility to meet the needs of the remote communities that will be energized in Phase 2 of the Project.
"I am honoured and pleased to announce that we are celebrating the completion and energization of the 230 kV line to enable the connection of 17 remote First Nations to reliable, clean energy as mandated by our Chiefs and supported by our partners," says Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. "This achievement took years of negotiations, perseverance, commitment, and working together by the First Nations, governments, and industry to bring the 230 kV line to the region. This is a big step forward and a huge milestone towards fulfilling the vision."
"With many communities' diesel generators at capacity, it is impossible to hook up new houses and businesses," says Frank Mckay, Board Chair for the Wataynikaneyap Power General Partnership (WPGP). "Medical treatments, education, food security, and technology upgrades have been negatively affected by the limitations of diesel generation. As we advance the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, we will see that reliable power will allow for opportunities in remote First Nations that others may take for granted."
There are two main substations for the 230 kV energization. Dinorwic Substation will serve as the connection to the provincial power grid while Pickle Lake Substation will step down the power from 230 kV to 115 kV. Valard is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.
"The completion and energization of the transmission line to Pickle Lake marks an important milestone in the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project," says David Hutchens, President and CEO, Fortis Inc. "We are proud to see this advancement and look forward to all 17 First Nations being connected to the electricity grid."
"The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is the largest First Nations-led infrastructure project in Canada," says Eliezar Mckay, First Nation LP Board Chair. "Our leaders have come together on a regional issue and found a solution. First Nation ownership will ensure responsible development of infrastructure on our homelands and maximize benefits to communities."
Wataynikaneyap Power will be celebrating the energization of the 230 kV line with its First Nation communities in mid-September.
"FortisOntario is proud to be a partner and support the First Nations' vision to lead infrastructure development on their homelands," says President & CEO of FortisOntario Inc., Scott Hawkes. "Completion of Phase 1 provides the network infrastructure to energize the remote First Nations and remaining 1,500 km of transmission lines."
"All communities need access to energy that is clean and reliable. By investing in Indigenous-led solutions to long standing infrastructure challenges, the Government of Canada plays an important role to support companies like Wataynikaneyap Power on their Power Transmission Project that will support remote First Nations to power themselves and reduce GHG emissions related to diesel energy production. Thank you for your vision, leadership, and congratulations on completing the first phase of this monumental project!" says The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada.
"I'm proud that our government is getting it done for Northern Ontario. Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford and I congratulate Wataynikaneyap Power in completing the energization of the Line to Pickle Lake. This is the first phase in a historic project that will end the remote First Nations' reliance on costly and unsustainable diesel generators and connect them to the provincial grid," said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. "This achievement is providing access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity that is essential to unlocking and driving community development."
About Wataynikaneyap Power
Wataynikaneyap Power is a licensed transmission company majority-owned by a partnership of 24 First Nations in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, regulated by the Ontario Energy Board. FortisOntario Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc., acts as the project manager through its wholly owned subsidiary, Wataynikaneyap Power PM Inc. The 24 First Nations also established Opiikapawiin Services to lead the community engagement and participation for Wataynikaneyap Power LP. To connect remote communities to the electrical grid, Wataynikaneyap Power will develop, manage construction, and operate approximately 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines in northwestern Ontario. For further information, please visit: www.wataypower.ca.
About First Nation Limited Partnership
First Nation Limited Partnership (FNLP) is a partnership of 24 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario working together to connect 17 remote communities currently powered by diesel generation stations. FNLP was established in 2015 to be the ownership and control of the participating First Nations' interest in Wataynikaneyap Power LP. The 51% interest in Wataynikaneyap Power LP is equally owned by each of the 24 First Nation communities and FNLP will maintain their ability to increase their ownership to 100% over time.
Fortis is a well-diversified leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry with 2021 revenue of $9.4 billion and total assets of $60 billion as of June 30, 2022. The Corporation's 9,100 employees serve utility customers in five Canadian provinces, nine U.S. states and three Caribbean countries. Fortis shares are listed on the TSX and NYSE and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com, www.sedar.com, or www.sec.gov.
About Opiikapawiin Services
Opiikapawiin Services LP (OSLP) was established by a partnership of 24 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. OSLP is primarily responsible for administering projects and programs for Wataynikaneyap Power PM through a service agreement, relating to community engagement, community readiness, education & training, business readiness, stakeholder engagement, communications, and capacity building. OSLP also supports the First Nation Partnership in the management of its investment in Wataynikaneyap Power. For additional information, please visit: www.oslp.ca