Major milestone reached for Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project
Tim Brody - Editor
The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project has reached a major milestone with the completion and energization of a 230 kV line, approximately 300 kilometres from Dinorwic to Pickle Lake, Ontario.
Wataynikaneyap Power announced on August 16 (https://www.wataypower.ca/updates/wataynikaneyap-power-reaches-major-milestone) that this is the first part of the 1,800 km Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project that is being built to connect 17 remote First Nations to the Ontario power grid. Phase 1 of the project was successfully completed on August 12.
“Wataynikaneyap Power is majority-owned by 24 First Nations, in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, to bring the ‘line that brings light’, a $1.8 billion dollar infrastructure project, to remote northern Ontario First Nations currently powered by diesel generators. Many of these generators are at capacity and not able to connect new infrastructure.
“The new 230 kV upgrade to Pickle Lake will increase the load supply capabilities and provide the operating flexibility to meet the needs of the remote communities that will be energized in Phase 2 of the Project,” Wataynikaneyap Power explained.
“I am honoured and pleased to announce that we are celebrating the completion and energization of the 230 kV line to enable the connection of 17 remote First Nations to reliable, clean energy as mandated by our Chiefs and supported by our partners,” stated Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “This achievement took years of negotiations, perseverance, commitment, and working together by the First Nations, governments, and industry to bring the 230 kV line to the region. This is a big step forward and a huge milestone towards fulfilling the vision.”
“With many communities’ diesel generators at capacity, it is impossible to hook up new houses and businesses,” stated Frank Mckay, Board Chair for the Wataynikaneyap Power General Partnership (WPGP). “Medical treatments, education, food security, and technology upgrades have been negatively affected by the limitations of diesel generation. As we advance the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, we will see that reliable power will allow for opportunities in remote First Nations that others may take for granted.”
A Dinorwic substation will serve as the connection to the provincial power grid while a Pickle Lake substation will step down the power from 230 kV to 115 kV.
Valard is the engineering, procurement and construction contractor for the project.
“The completion and energization of the transmission line to Pickle Lake marks an important milestone in the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project,” said David Hutchens, President and CEO, Fortis Inc. “We are proud to see this advancement and look forward to all 17 First Nations being connected to the electricity grid.”
“The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is the largest First Nations-led infrastructure project in Canada,” noted Eliezar Mckay, First Nation LP Board Chair. “Our leaders have come together on a regional issue and found a solution. First Nation ownership will ensure responsible development of infrastructure on our homelands and maximize benefits to communities.”
“FortisOntario is proud to be a partner and support the First Nations’ vision to lead infrastructure development on their homelands,” commented President & CEO of FortisOntario Inc., Scott Hawkes. “Completion of Phase 1 provides the network infrastructure to energize the remote First Nations and remaining 1,500 km of transmission lines.”
“All communities need access to energy that is clean and reliable. By investing in Indigenous-led solutions to long standing infrastructure challenges, the Government of Canada plays an important role to support companies like Wataynikaneyap Power on their Power Transmission Project that will support remote First Nations to power themselves and reduce GHG emissions related to diesel energy production. Thank you for your vision, leadership, and congratulations on completing the first phase of this monumental project!” stated Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada.
“I’m proud that our government is getting it done for Northern Ontario. Northern Development Minister Greg Rickford and I congratulate Wataynikaneyap Power in completing the energization of the Line to Pickle Lake. This is the first phase in a historic project that will end the remote First Nations’ reliance on costly and unsustainable diesel generators and connect them to the provincial grid,” stated Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “This achievement is providing access to clean, reliable, and affordable electricity that is essential to unlocking and driving community
Wataynikaneyap Power will be celebrating the energization of the 230 kV line with its First Nation communities in mid-September.
Wataynikaneyap Power shared that, “The next phase of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project, currently underway, is the construction, operation, and maintenance of 1,441 km of a 115 kV, 44 kV, 25 kV alternating current transmission system located north of Red Lake and Pickle Lake to connect 15 communities to the provincial power grid. Phase 2 construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project is progressing well, with 100% of the Right of Way cleared and 61% of 2,131 total towers installed. The line will be fully operational by mid-2024, according to the current Project schedule.”