Kasabonika Lake First Nation celebrates connection to provincial power grid
Tim Brody - Editor
Kasabonika Lake First Nation is the latest First Nation community to be connected to the provincial power grid through the Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system.
The community was connected on Sept. 19.
Kasabonika Lake Chief Tom Semple stated in an Oct. 14 media release issued by Wataynikaneyap Power, “This is an exciting achievement. Kasabonika Lake is proud to be an owner of the infrastructure that allows us to replace diesel-generation as our primary source of power. By removing power restrictions in our community, we are able to complete projects like renovating the school, building an office on the mainland, and a lighted sports field. We can also build a new high school, which will allow our youth to stay in the community longer for education, instead of having to leave the community at a younger age. Finally, we can start building new homes!”
Wataynikaneyap Power is majority-owned by an equal partnership of 24 First Nations, in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, to build and operate the ‘line that brings light’, a $1.9 billion dollar infrastructure project.
“The 1,800 km Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line will ultimately connect 17 remote First Nations to the Ontario power grid, removing their reliance on diesel-generated electricity. Many of these generators are at capacity and not able to connect new infrastructure,” Wataynikaneyap Power informed.
“Kasabonika Lake First Nation has experienced many challenges with housing, community infrastructure, community expansion and other matters impacted by lack of reliable energy,” remarked Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “Connecting Kasabonika Lake First Nation is a huge accomplishment and will enable the community to address their challenges and look forward to more opportunities. Congratulations to Kasabonika Lake First Nation!”
Kasabonika Lake First Nation is located about 600 km north of Thunder Bay, Ontario. There are no all-season roads into the community; it is accessible by airport and ice road. The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system connects the Kasabonika Lake community distribution system to the Ontario grid through a total of 673 km of line and six substations, originating from its Dinorwic Substation. Kasabonika Lake will continue to be served by Hydro One Remotes Communities Inc. (HORCI) for the local distribution of electricity.
Kasabonika Lake is the sixth First Nation energized by the provincial power grid through the Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system. Ten further First Nations are planned to be energized in 2023-2024. Wataynikaneyap Power shared that it will continue to work with McDowell Lake First Nation, the 17th community, with the goal of becoming grid connected in the future.
On October 14, Kasabonika Lake invited Wataynikaneyap Power, Opiikapawiin Services, government, and other stakeholders to celebrate the community’s connection to the provincial power grid.
Eliezar Mckay, First Nation LP Board Chair, stated, “Congratulations to the team on this achievement! As we advance the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, we will see that reliable power allows for opportunities in remote First Nations that others may take for granted. I look forward to seeing what opportunities our People will take on now that there is adequate power.”
“The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is the largest First Nations-led infrastructure project in Canada. First Nation ownership will ensure responsible development of infrastructure on our homelands and maximize benefits to communities,” remarked Frank Mckay, Board Chair for the Wataynikaneyap Power General Partnership (WPGP). “Congratulations Kasabonika Lake First Nation!”
“Fortis extends congratulations to Kasabonika Lake First Nation on this special occasion,” said David Hutchens, President and CEO, Fortis Inc. “The importance of connecting to the main Ontario electricity grid for the first time cannot be overstated. The people of Kasabonika Lake will now enjoy reliable, secure power. We look forward to completing the 1,800 km transmission line and connecting all Wataynikaneyap Power Project communities to the grid.”