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First Nations/Fortis venture seeks Ontario approval for transmission project

Wataynikaneyap Power LP is seeking the approval of the Ontario Energy Board to construct and operate 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines that would connect 17 First Nations communities to the Ontario power grid.

The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project includes an initial phase of about 300 kilometers of new 230-kV transmission line to Pickle Lake, Ontario, replacing an existing 115-kV line roughly 70 years old, and a second phase of about 1,500 kilometers that will link 17 remote First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario, some of which are currently isolated from the broader electric grid, with 115-kV and 44-kV lines. Construction of a transmission line to the Pikangikum First Nation is underway and expected to be completed in November.

"This is an incredibly important project that will provide clean, reliable power to the First Nations communities in Northern Ontario that are currently living off the grid and relying on very expensive, environmentally-unfriendly diesel generators to power their homes and businesses," Wataynikaneyap Power CEO Margaret Kenequanash said in a news release June 13.

Wataynikaneyap Power is a venture that is 51% owned by 22 First Nations communities and 49% owned by Fortis Inc. through its FortisOntario Inc. subsidiary. FortisOntario also acts as project manager for the transmission project.