Wataynikaneyap Power, a licenced transmission company owned by 22 First Nation communities, has partnered with FortisOntario Inc. and RES Canada with the objective of connecting remote First Nation communities, currently serviced by diesel generation in Northwest Ontario. The Transmission Project has been identified as a priority in Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan. Continued use of diesel generation to power remote First Nation communities is financially unsustainable.
The Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project is an unprecedented undertaking. The first phase, a new 300km transmission line, will reinforce electricity supply into Pickle Lake. The second phase will connect 17 First Nation communities north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake with an estimated 1500km of new transmission line. The total estimated capital cost is $1.35 billion ($2015).
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that the current cost of diesel generation for these 16 remote First Nations communities is $43 million per year and growing. Building and operating transmission to these communities is expected to save $1 billion compared to continued diesel generation. In addition, the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project is estimated to create 769 jobs during construction and nearly $900 million in social value.
The Wataynikaneyap Power, FortisOntario Inc. and RES Canada partnership will develop and operate the transmission facilities. The First Nations will remain majority owners and become 100% owners over time. First Nation communities working together and controlling development of infrastructure within their traditional lands will be a catalyst for greater prosperity and economic self-determination.