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article imageOntario project to connect 16 First Nation communities to grid

By Karen Graham     Mar 23, 2018 in Technology
Thunder Bay - A new agreement between Ontario First Nations, the federal government and the province will see 16 northern communities connected to the power grid in a $1.6-billion project that will end their dependence on diesel fuel for power.
Wataynikaneyap Power is a majority-owned (51 percent) company founded in 2015 by 22 northern First Nations. Fortis Inc.owns 49 percent of the company. Wataynikaneyap Power PM Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of FortisOntario Inc., which acts as project the manager.
Wataynikaneyap Power was formed with the express mission of bringing electricity to many remote First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario. Without access to an adequate supply of reliable power, basic community needs, from education and health services to safe drinking water, as well as building critical infrastructure has been hampered.
In some communities, as many as 80 percent of homes are without water and sewer service. And many diesel fuel generating stations are coming to the end of their working life, often breaking down and leaving whole communities without power.
Ontario Ministry of Energy
Yesterday at 2:56pm · 
The Wataynikaneyap Power connection project wil...
Ontario Ministry of Energy Yesterday at 2:56pm · The Wataynikaneyap Power connection project will connect 16 First Nation communities to Ontario’s electricity grid, eliminating their diesel dependency and making it easier for them to build new housing and infrastructure.
Ontario Ministry of Energy
So it was a great day for the First Nations power company when one of the most ambitious and transformative infrastructure projects in Canada’s history got the green light on Thursday with the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario announcing funding for the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Line Project in the amount of $1.6 billion.
According to HuffPost Canada, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler lauded the agreement in a statement Thursday, calling it a "major achievement."
"Wataynikaneyap has made tremendous progress connecting 16 remote First Nations to the provincial electricity grid in the first phase of this project, and we are pleased that Ontario has funded the expansion of this vital infrastructure to more remote communities," Fiddler said. "Connecting our remote First Nations to the provincial energy grid will finally end their reliance on costly and dirty diesel generation and help bring health and economic benefits to our communities."
Wataynikaneyap Power  owned by 22 First Nations and Fortis Ontario  is connecting remote First Natio...
Wataynikaneyap Power, owned by 22 First Nations and Fortis Ontario, is connecting remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario to the grid.
Ontario Ministry of Energy
A 2014 study by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator determined that there was a positive business case to extend the provincial electricity grid to 21 of the 25 First Nations that depend on diesel. The groundwork was laid in August 2017 with $60 million to build a 117-kilometer grid line from Red Lake, Ontario to Pikangikum First Nation.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement: "Today, I was in Thunder Bay to mark a historic step on our path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The federal and Ontario governments are partnering with 22 First Nations to provide funding for Wataynikaneyap Power to connect 16 remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario to the provincial power grid."
When the Wataynikaneyap Power Grid Connection Project is completed in 2023, it will be the largest Indigenous-led and Indigenous-owned infrastructure project in Ontario history. Wynne also stressed the reconciliation efforts were not just words any longer, saying "they are actions. We are walking this journey, together."
Wynne said, "Recently, Ontario's Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation celebrated its 10-year anniversary. We have looked long and hard at the pain and injustices of the past, and we are taking real steps to do better. We are showing that we care about the future of Indigenous communities and the opportunities that will be available to Indigenous youth."
More about Ontario, Electric grid, Wataynikaneyap Power Grid, Diesel fuel, Federal Government
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