Province finances First Nation transmission project: Wataynikaneyap Power cashes up with $1.34 billion to advance power line work.


Wataynikaneyap Power (Watay), a massive First Nations-led power project to connect remote communities to the provincial grid for the first time, received a major funding jolt in October.

The provincial government provided a $1.34-billion loan to be used toward construction costs of the $1.9-billion project. Valard LP officially got the green light to proceed with construction.

The Watay project is majority owned by 24 northwestern Ontario First Nations in partnership with its utility project partner Fortis and other private investors.

Watay invited its project partners and various dignitaries to celebrate the "milestone" moment in Thunder Bay, Oct. 29.

The project involves stringing 1,800 kilometres of power lines to connect 17 remote First Nations communities and 14,000 people.

The transmission line network will remove the communities' reliance on using expensive diesel fuel for local power generation.

About 770 construction jobs will be created with the project generating close to $900 million in socioeconomic spinoffs.

Construction for the first leg of the power corridor actually began in 2018 with Pikangikum First Nation, north of Red Lake, being the first community hooked up last December.

The anticipated completion date for the entire project is 2023.

Valard, the project's engineering, procurement, and construction contractor, was awarded the contract on Sept. 6.

The power line contractor is also working with NextBridge on twinning the East-West Tie transmission project between Wawa and Thunder Bay.

In a statement, Wataynikaneyap Power CEO Margaret Ken equanash said this is a project 28 years...

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