Wataynikaneyap supports Long-Term Energy Plan priority to tie First Nations communities into the provincial electricity grid

TORONTO, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Wataynikaneyap Power supports the Ontario Government's Long-Term Energy Plan commitment to connect remote First Nations communities currently serviced by diesel generation. The First Nations-led company looks forward to working with the provincial government to make this important infrastructure project a reality.

"We applaud the provincial government on its support for a project that will provide our communities with safe, reliable and clean energy," said Margaret Kenequanash, of Wataynikaneyap Power. "We look forward to the day when we can tie into the provincial electricity grid -- and leave costly diesel generation behind."

In 2008, 13 First Nations gave a mandate to explore connecting to the provincial grid, and look at ownership options. The Wataynikaneyap Power project is designed to connect 15 remote First Nations communities, resulting in nearly $1-billion in direct investment in Ontario's North.

Wataynikaneyap Power has been undertaking the project through a staged development process. The first phase, a 300-kilometre transmission line, will reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake, including servicing the Musselwhite mine, owned by Goldcorp. The second phase will extend transmission north of Pickle Lake to service multiple First Nations communities.

The new transmission line would cost significantly less than continued diesel generation. In fact, the Ontario Power Authority has determined that diesel generation in remote communities costs three to 10 times that of the average price of power in Ontario. The total diesel generation cost for remote communities in Ontario is about $68-million a year, and results in health, safety, and environmental issues. In addition, many communities are constrained in their electricity capacity.

"The basic services so many Canadians take for granted aren't available to us with the existing system," said Kenequanash. "Some communities can't even hook up their new housing, as well as essential services."

The project will also create substantial new economic development opportunities in Northern Ontario. More than 1,200 construction-related jobs, and 60 long-term career opportunities, are anticipated.

"Our goal has always been to create as many local economic opportunities for our communities as possible," said Kenequanash. "We're currently developing training programs to prepare the local workforce for the construction period, and for the long-term as well."

Wataynikaneyap has initiated an Environmental Assessment on Phase I, and expects to complete construction to Pickle Lake by 2016. Phase 2 could begin connecting communities as early as 2017. The company is working with AECOM (in association with PowerTel and Deutsche Bank) to develop the project.

About Wataynikaneyap Power

Wataynikaneyap Power is a partnership between 18 First Nations communities and Goldcorp. The company is working to design, permit, construct, own and operate a transmission line to bring additional grid connect to Pickle Lake and beyond, connecting remote First Nations communities in Northwestern Ontario. Wataynikaneyap means "line that brings light" in Anishiniiniimowin, named by the Elders who provided guidance to the partners. The company's objective is to provide reliable and affordable power to residents, businesses, and industry in the region, while realizing opportunities for First Nations. www.wataypower.ca

SOURCE: Wataynikaneyap Power

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT:

Laura Fracassi
Sussex Strategy Group
647.984.6136
lfracassi@sussex-strategy.com

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