Kingfisher Lake First Nation connected to provincial power grid through Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project
Tim Brody - Editor
Kingfisher Lake First Nation is the latest community to be connected to the provincial power grid through the First Nation-led Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, ending the community’s reliance on costly diesel generation.
Energized on Nov. 8, the connection will power future economic and social development in the community, including a new school opening in Fall 2023 and a new subdivision.
On November 23, Kingfisher Lake invited Wataynikaneyap Power, Opiikapawiin Services, government, and other stakeholders to celebrate the momentous occasion in the community.
“Access to reliable energy will lead to many improvements for our people and the community. Schools, households, and businesses have been negatively impacted by frequent power outages. Improvements in healthcare, education, food security, and technology will no longer be constrained by the limited capacity of the diesel generators,” shared Kingfisher Lake Chief Eddie Mamakwa.
“The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system connects the Kingfisher Lake community distribution system to the Ontario grid through a total of 250 km of line and two substations, originating from its Pickle Lake Substation. Kingfisher Lake will continue to be served by Hydro One Remotes Communities Inc. (HORCI) for the local distribution of electricity,” Wataynikaneyap Power explained in a Nov. 23 media release.
“It has taken many years and we have reached a significant milestone today. I am very excited that we are celebrating the connection of Kingfisher Lake First Nation,” said Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “With a clear mandate from our Chiefs and support from our partners, connection to the provincial power grid brings reliable, clean energy to our communities through infrastructure majority-owned by 24 First Nations,” Kenequanash added.
“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. Wataynikaneyap Power, in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, are making the ‘line that brings light’, a $1.9 billion dollar infrastructure project, a reality for remote, northern Ontario First Nations,” Wataynikaneyap Power shared.
“This is a huge accomplishment for the community, and all 24 First Nation majority owners in the Project,” stated Frank Mckay, Board Chair for the Wataynikaneyap Power General Partnership (WPGP). “Miigwech to all our service providers and partners who supported our vision.”
Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada shared, “Congratulations to Kingfisher Lake First Nation and Wataynikaneyap Power on this incredible milestone. This massive, First Nations-led project has been years in the making and will pave the way for more investments into cleaner sources of energy, while improving the quality of life of community members in Kingfisher Lake. This is an example of reliable infrastructure that benefits both the community and the environment, and I am excited to see more of these milestones in other communities as they get connected.”
The project is being cost-shared with the federal government, which has committed $1.6 billion in funding at project completion.
Todd Smith, Minister of Energy, states, “On behalf of the government of Ontario, I congratulate Wataynikaneyap Power on this extraordinary achievement in bringing reliable and affordable electricity to remote First Nation communities. Being connected to Ontario’s clean grid will help strengthen local economies and unlock opportunities for further community development for Kingfisher Lake First Nation. As the largest First Nation grid connection project in the history of the province, we look forward to electrifying the rest of the communities in the Northwest.”
“The First Nation-led Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is a prime example of what can be accomplished through strong, meaningful partnerships,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Not only will this bring economic benefits and energy certainty to the community of Kingfisher Lake First Nation, but it will also improve quality of life and open the door for new opportunities to the region.”
The Ontario Government is supporting the construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project through a loan of up to $1.34 billion for the project’s construction costs.
The project’s first major milestone came in August 2022 with the completion and energization of a 230kV line, approximately 300 km from Dinorwic to Pickle Lake. Kingfisher Lake became the third First Nation connected to the provincial power grid through the Wataynikaneyap Power transmission line infrastructure project. Pikangikum First Nation was energized in December 2018 while North Caribou Lake First Nation connected to the power grid in October 2022.
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.