The Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project

Wataynikaneyap Power LP (the “Wataynikaneyap”) is a licensed transmission company equally owned by 24 First Nations communities (51%), in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors (49%). FortisOntario has a 49% interest in the general partner of Wataynikaneyap, while 24 First Nations communities equally hold the remaining 51% interest. The 24 First Nations communities will maintain their ability to increase their ownership and control to 100% in anticipation of such purchase right becoming available (25 years following the operation date for the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Line).  24 First Nations Partnership also owns 100% of Opiikapawiin Services LP. FortisOntario owns 100% of Wataynikaneyap Power PM Inc. (the “Project Manager”).

The Transmission Project has been identified as a priority in Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan.  Continued use of diesel generation to power remote First Nation communities is financially unsustainable.

The Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project is an unprecedented undertaking. The first phase, a new 300km transmission line, will reinforce electricity supply into Pickle Lake. The second phase will connect 17 First Nation communities north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake with an estimated 1500km of new transmission line. The total estimated capital cost is $1.83 billion.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that the current cost of diesel generation for these 16 remote First Nations communities is $43 million per year and growing. Building and operating transmission to these communities is expected to save $1 billion compared to continued diesel generation. In addition, the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project is estimated to create 769 jobs during construction and nearly $900 million in social value.
 
The Wataynikaneyap Power and FortisOntario Inc. partnership will develop and operate the transmission facilities.  The First Nations will remain majority owners and become 100% owners over time.  First Nation communities working together and controlling development of infrastructure within their traditional lands will be a catalyst for greater prosperity and economic self-determination.
 
On July 29 2016, Ontario officially selected Wataynikaneyap as the transmitter to undertake the project.
 
Additional information is available at Watay Power

On March 15, 2017, Wataynikaneyap Power was featured on TVO's – The Agenda. View Powering Ontario’s Remote First Nations Segment
 

TORONTO, ONTARIO (March 10, 2017) – Wataynikaneyap Power LP is pleased to announce that FortisOntario Inc. ("FortisOntario") through its parent company Fortis Inc. has completed the transaction to increase its share in the ownership of the transmission partnership by acquiring the interest of Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES). As a result of this increased investment, Fortis’s equity in the Limited Partnership has increased to 49%, while the 22 First Nations communities will continue to hold the remaining 51% interest.

"We are very excited to announce we have received approval from the Ontario Energy Board and have completed this transaction to increase Fortis’ investment in this important project," said Scott Hawkes, President and CEO of FortisOntario, and President of Wataynikaneyap Power.

"Fortis continues to demonstrate its commitment to the project through this increased participation", says Margaret Kenequanash, Executive Director of Shibogama First Nations Council, and Chair of Wataynikaneyap Power. "At the same time, our partnership allows the First Nations to remain majority owners in the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project and ensure that our communities benefit."

The Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project will reinforce the existing transmission grid to Pickle Lake. Connections to the Remote Communities will expand grid service north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake to 17 remote First Nations communities. Wataynikaneyap has advanced engineering, permitting, and completed several rounds of engagement with potentially impacted communities, and further engagement will continue. Construction is currently planned to start in 2018; however, firm government funding commitments and various approvals are required.

TORONTO, ONTARIO (December 15, 2016) – Wataynikaneyap Power LP is pleased to announce that FortisOntario Inc. ("FortisOntario") through its parent company Fortis Inc. has agreed to increase its share in the ownership of the transmission company by acquiring the interest of Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. (RES). As a result of this increased investment, FortisOntario’s equity in the Limited Partnership will increase to 49%, while the 22 First Nations communities will continue to hold the remaining 51% interest.

"This increase of our ownership of Wataynikaneyap Power LP demonstrates the solid commitment FortisOntario has to the success of this Project and to our partners," said Scott Hawkes, President of CEO of FortisOntario Inc., and President of Wataynikaneyap Power LP. "FortisOntario firmly believes in the mission and our collective mandate with First Nations to connect communities to the provincial electricity transmission system. Not only will this reduce reliance on high-cost diesel for power, but it will also serve as a platform for further infrastructure and socio-economic development in the North."

RES has agreed to sell its holdings in the Limited Partnership to FortisOntario. RES will remain a strong developer, constructor, and operator in the Canadian renewable generation and energy storage sectors. "RES has made significant contributions to the Project to-date" said Hawkes. "As part of the short term transition plan, RES will remain a service provider to the project while Wataynikaneyap Power LP and Fortis implement resource options, including opportunities to utilize certain resources from the Fortis Group of companies."

"We are very pleased that FortisOntario has shown continued commitment to Wataynikaneyap Power and to the important work that lies ahead in connecting out communities to the grid," said Margaret Kenequanash, Executive Director of Shibogama First Nation Council, and Chair of Wataynikaneyap Power. "This is a transformational project. Along with FortisOntario’s participation, First Nations ownership will not only ensure responsible development of infrastructure in our traditional homelands, but it will maximize the health, safety, environmental, social and economic benefits for those First Nations communities that have been unable to provide adequate infrastructure and services to their people."

"We are very proud of the progress that we have made with RES as a partner and we thank them for their tireless support," said Kenequanash.

The closing of the transaction is subject to approval of the Ontario Energy Board. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

Wataynikaneyap Power is an unprecedented partnership of 22 First Nations who have joined together with FortisOntario to build 1,800 km of transmission lines. The project, currently forecasted to be $1.35 billion, includes the grid reinforcement to Pickle Lake, expanding the grid north of Pickle Lake, and Red Lake to connect remote First Nations communities. Earlier this year the Government of Ontario prioritized the Remote Connection Plan to connect participating First Nations communities, and designated Wataynikaneyap Power LP as the licensed transmitter to undertake the Project.

In addition to the 17 communities that will now be connected, other communities can be expected to be connected to the grid in the near future.

The connection of remote First Nation communities to clean electricity through transmission lines was identified in Ontario’s 2013 Long Term Energy Plan. It is expected to save over $1 billion and is estimated to result in over 6.6 million tonnes of avoided CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to continued dialogue with First Nations communities with a vested interest in the project, Wataynikaneyap Power’s next steps will be to apply to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for Leave to Construct the project, as well as to complete all necessary environmental assessment work. Pending permitting, approvals, and a cost sharing agreement between the federal and provincial government, construction is expected to begin in 2018.

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