THUNDER BAY, Ont.—A new electricity transmission company, Wataynikaneyap Power, has been established by 13 First Nations and mining firm Goldcorp Inc., to develop a transmission line that will bring electricity to remote communities in Ontario that currently rely on diesel-generated power.
The company was formally incorporated today. Wataynikaneyap means ‘line of light.’
“We have partnered with Goldcorp to establish Wataynikaneyap Power with a goal of First Nations eventually owning 100 per cent 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—it is safe, reliable and provides for cleaner energy,” said Margaret Kenequanash, representative for the 13 First Nations partners in Watayanikaneyap Power.
Ontario’s remote First Nations communities use 25 million litres of diesel fuel per year, which costs about $68 million. Wataynikaneyap Power says building a transmission line will be more cost-effective for these communities in the long-term.
It has proposed a two-phase project. The first phase, building a 300-kilometre line to Pickle Lake and Goldcorp’s Musselwhite mine, is slated for completion in 2015.
The second phase, extending the line north of Pickle Lake to reach 10 remote First Nations communities, still has to undergo an environmental assessment, which is slated for the first half of this year. If phase two is approved it is expected to be operational by 2017.
Goldcorp is facilitating the first stage of the project, but plans to cease involvement after Wataynikaneyap Power finds a long-term partner for power transmission.
Ultimately, the project could connect 21 of the 25 remote First Nations communities to the Ontario power grid as well as the region known as the Ring of Fire, which is currently being developed for mining.