Â“We have partnered with Goldcorp to establish Wataynikaneyap Power with a goal of First Nations eventually owning 100 of this important infrastructure that will better serve our communities. I look forward to the day we can connect our communities to the provincial power grid Â– it is safe, reliable and provides for cleaner energy,Â” said Margaret Kenequanash, representing the 13 First Nations partners in Wataynikaneyap Power.
The company is proposing a single project with a two-phase development process. The first phase, a 300-km transmission line, will reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake, including servicing GoldcorpÂ’s Musselwhite mine. The second phase will extend transmission north of Pickle Lake to service 10 remote First Nation communities.
In total, 21 of OntarioÂ’s 25 remote communities, as well as the Ring of Fire, could be connected to the grid. OntarioÂ’s 25 remote communities burn approximately 25 million litres of diesel fuel per year to generate electricity. The associated cost of this diesel generation has been estimated at approximately $68 million annually. In the long term, a new transmission line would cost significantly less than continued diesel generation.
The project will create new economic development opportunities including potential for renewable energy development. Approximately 1,200 construction-related jobs and 60 long-term career opportunities will be created.
Â“Our goal is to create as many local economic opportunities for our First Nations communities as possible,Â” said Kenequanash. Â“We are currently in the process of developing training programs to prepare the local workforce not only for the construction period but for the long term as well.Â”
Â“Wataynikaneyap Power is an example of how industry and First Nations can work together on projects that are good for the economy and the environment while benefitting communities in the region for years to come,Â” said Gil Lawson, Manager of GoldcorpÂ’s Musselwhite Mine.
Although Goldcorp and other customers in the region are connected to the existing grid, the current line is at capacity and subject to frequent outages. Goldcorp is facilitating development for Phase 1 of the project, but expects to exit the company once a long-term transmission partner is secured.
Wataynikaneyap has initiated an environmental assessment on Phase 1 and expects to complete construction to Pickle Lake by the end of 2015. The company plans to initiate an environmental assessment on Phase 2 in 2013, and could begin connecting communities in 2017. Over 40 years, the project could result in over 4 million tons of avoided greenhouse gas GHG emissions.
Wataynikaneyap means Â“line that brings lightÂ” in Anishininiimowin, named by the Elders who provided guidance to the partners.