Twenty First Nation communities are working together to reinforce the existing regional transmission service and also bring a new transmission line to 16 remote First Nation communities currently operating on expensive diesel generators in Northwestern Ontario. The Wataynikaneyap Power project will significantly improve social/living conditions and promote economic development in these remote First Nation communities, and is a unique ownership model enabling responsible development, capacity building, and benefits to First Nations communities in their traditional homelands. New Economy was contracted in 2012 by the Central Energy Corridor Group (CCEG) to be the Project Management Office and to provide project management, corporate governance, economic development, community engagement and environmental assessment expertise to facilitate the initiation of the project. With the selection of an experienced development partner in the fall of 2013 New Economy’s project management role was completed. New Economy has however continued to provide environmental assessment (EA) and community engagement services to CCEG for the Phase 1 Individual EA and related environmental planning. Wataynikaneyap means “line that brings light” in Anishininiimowin, named by the Elders who provided guidance to the partners.
Figure 1: CCEG Community and Tribal Council Representatives (http://www.wataypower.ca/node/5)
Wataynikaneyap Power has been undertaking the project through a staged development process (Figure 1). The first phase, a 300km transmission line, will reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake. The second phase will require approximately 1300 km of transmission north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake to service multiple First Nations communities. The capital cost of the entire project is approximately $1 billion.
CCEG represents 20 First Nations communities, including 16 communities that would be potential customers of the new line, with the support of four Tribal Councils in three Treaty areas (#3, #5 and #9). Goldcorp, another potential customer of the line, had partnered on the project and made significant financial commitments towards project. The two groups had 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. As planned, Goldcorp has recently exited and is no longer a partner in Wataynikaneyap.
Figure 2: Wataynikaneyap Power Project Map