THUNDER BAY, ON, Aug. 17, 2017 /CNW/ - Connecting Pikangikum First Nation to Ontario's power grid will provide clean energy while making an important contribution to the health and safety of community members and boosting the First Nation's economic development opportunities.
Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, announced up to $60.2 million in funding for Wataynikaneyap Power to build a 117-kilometre power line with associated infrastructure from Red Lake into the local distribution system at Pikangikum First Nation.
Construction on the power line will begin in fall 2017. Completion is expected in fall 2018. Once complete, Pikangikum will be connected to the Ontario provincial electrical grid and will receive clean, safe and reliable power.
This project is the result of long-term collaboration with the Government of Ontario to advance electrification of First Nation communities in Northern Ontario. It is a significant first step in eliminating Pikangikum's dependence on diesel fuel by supporting a transition to more sustainable energy solutions.
Connecting remote First Nations in Northwestern Ontario to the provincial electricity grid would save six megatons of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 40 years. In many communities, diesel generators are at capacity, limiting the potential to accommodate growing populations, businesses and other necessary infrastructure.
"Today's announcement is a concrete example of First Nation, federal and provincial partners making real progress on the issues that will lead the way to better health and socio economic outcomes. Opening the door for better housing and future economic development will change the quality of life for the Pikangikum First Nation and bring hope to their community."
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
"Investing to build better-connected electricity systems and promote cleaner, more reliable energy supply in rural and remote communities will help create new opportunities for social and economic development in these communities. Our Government will invest in projects to reduce reliance on diesel fuel in rural and remote communities across Canada as part of our broader plan to build the low-carbon economy."
The Honourable Jim Carr, P.C, M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
"Connecting Pikangikum First Nation to the province's electrical grid will do more than just provide reliable electricity to the community; it will reduce reliance on diesel, open up new economic development opportunities, and facilitate social infrastructure and programming for things like affordable housing, early learning, childcare, and community health care facilities. Providing power to the residents of Pikangikum has been long awaited and will greatly benefit the community for generations to come."
The Honourable Bob Nault, P.C.
Member of Parliament for Kenora
"Connecting remote First Nations communities to the grid is a priority for the Government of Ontario as it lays the foundation for the critical infrastructure that communities and people rely on – better education opportunities, health care
services, as well as jobs and training."
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and Member of Provincial
Parliament for Kingston and the Islands
"I am thrilled that Pikangikum can look forward to a constant source of power to allow our local services to operate normally. We look forward to a safer and healthier future with power for heat and light on a consistent basis. Pikangikum can now move forward with infrastructure, economic development and community growth. It's very exciting! We will now be able to turn on our Christmas lights in the Christmas days to come."
Chief Dean Owen
Pikangikum First Nation
"This achievement is a very exciting milestone and I look forward to working in partnership with Pikangikum First Nation and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to bring this project to a successful completion. This will open the door to addressing the larger energy crisis and the need to connect other remote First Nation communities."
CEO, Wataynikaneyap Power LP
- Pikangikum First Nation currently uses a diesel generating station to supply electricity. This station is operated by Pikangikum as an Independent Power Authority. It is about 38 years old and has long surpassed its life expectancy as a critical infrastructure asset.
- Wataynikaneyap Power is a licenced transmission company, equally owned by 22 First Nation Communities (51%), who partnered with an experienced industry leader, Fortis (49%), with the goal of connecting 17 of its signatories, including Pikangikum First Nation, to the provincial grid in northwestern Ontario.
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SOURCE Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
For further information: Sabrina Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, 613-697-8316; INAC Media Relations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-953-1160