A group of First Nations in northwestern Ontario have formed a company to build and operate a new transmission line to join them to the provincial electricity grid and bring power to their remote communities.
Wataynikaneyap Power represents 18 First Nations communities in an area north of Dryden. Most of these currently operate on diesel generators.
The transmission project’s first phase is a new line from the Dryden area to Pickle Lake, reinforcing the existing provincial grid. The line may also service Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine.
The second phase will take the line up to connect with the remote First Nations communities. Most of these communities currently rely on diesel generating power, which has been estimated to cost up to 10 times more than the average cost of power in the province.
In October, AECOM announced that in association with PowerTel and Deutsche Bank, it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Wataynikaneyap Power to provide design, construction and financial services for the project. A qualified, licensed transmission partner also will be selected to partly own and operate the line.
Fourteen different corridors were analyzed to find the preferred route, includes a 2-kilometre wide corridor. This route is undergoing further environmental analysis. Golder Associates is Wataynikaneyap Power consultant for the environmental assessment.
Margaret Kenequanash, chair of Wataynikaneyap Power, said: “Our goal is the grid connection of remote communities and the elimination of dependency on diesel generation. There are many health, safety, and environmental concerns with diesel generation, and it does not meet the needs of our communities. Grid connection will change that, and our partnership will provide the necessary expertise to move this important infrastructure project forward.”