Eighteen First Nation communities (CCEG) and local industry (Goldcorp) are working together to reinforce the existing regional transmission service and also bring a new transmission line to remote First Nation communities currently operating on expensive diesel generators in Northwestern Ontario (please see http://www.wataypower.ca/). New Economy has been contracted since 2012 by the Central Corridor Energy Group (CCEG) to be the Project Management Office (PMO) and to provide project management, corporate governance, economic development, community engagement and environmental assessment expertise.
CCEG represents 18 First Nations communities including 15 communities that would be potential customers of the new line. Goldcorp, another potential customer of the line, has partnered on the project and made significant financial commitments towards project development. The two groups have formed Wataynikaneyap Power as a First Nation-led company to design, permit, construct, own and operate the transmission line to bring additional grid connection to Pickle Lake and beyond, to connect remote First Nation communities. Wataynikaneyap means “line that brings light” in Anishininiimowin, named by the Elders who provided guidance to the partners.
“We have partnered with Goldcorp to establish Wataynikaneyap Power with a goal of First Nations eventually owning 100% of this important infrastructure that will better serve our communities. I look forward to the day we can connect our communities to the provincial power grid – it is safe, reliable and provides for cleaner energy,” said Margaret Kenequanash, representing the 18 First Nations partners in Wataynikaneyap Power.
Wataynikaneyap Power is proposing a single project with a two-phase development process. The first phase, a 300-km transmission line, will reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake, including servicing Goldcorp’s Musselwhite mine. The second phase will extend transmission north of Pickle Lake to service at least 10 remote First Nation communities. The total capital investment cost is currently estimated to be approximately $775 million.
The activities completed by CCEG, Goldcorp and Wataynikaneyap Power to date include
- the establishment of a First Nations Holding Company (representing 18 First Nation communities);
- the signing of an ownership agreement by the First Nations Holding Company and Goldcorp to establish Wataynikaneyap Power;
- initiation of the provincial environmental assessment, associated studies, community engagement and Open Houses for Phase 1 of the project;
- completion of a financial feasibility study by PwC for the project;
- completion of a Project Benefits Study (Social, Environmental and Economic Analysis) of the Wataynikaneyap Power Project by Lumos Energy; and,
- initiation of Phase 2 project planning including corridor routing analysis and financial planning.
On October 17, 2013 Wataynikaneyap Power announced that the company and AECOM, working in association with PowerTel and Deutsche Bank, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help build a new transmission line in Northwestern Ontario. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM serves clients in more than 140 countries and had revenue of $8.2 billion during the 12 months ended June 30, 2013.