Frequently Asked Questions

Wataynikaneyap Power LP (Wataynikaneyap) is a partnership comprised of 22 First Nations, FortisOntario, an experienced transmission and utility owner/operator company and RES Canada, an experienced energy project development and construction management company. This partnership will develop, construct, and own 1800km of transmission line in 2 Phases to connect 17 remote communities to the Ontario grid. Wataynikaneyap is a licensed transmission company.
As of August 2016, the First Nation Partners are:
Bearskin Lake, Cat Lake, Deer Lake, Kasabonika Lake, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Lac Seul, McDowell Lake, Muskrat Dam, North Caribou Lake, North Spirit Lake, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Sachigo Lake, Sandy Lake, Slate Falls, Wabigoon Lake, Wapekeka, Wawakapewin, Wunnumin Lake, and Lac Des Mille Lacs
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The corporate Wataynikaneyap partners are subsidiaries of Fortis Inc. and Renewable Energy Systems:
 
Fortis Inc. (Fortis) is a leader in the North American electric and gas utility business, with total assets of approximately $28 billion and fiscal 2014 revenue of $5.4 billion. Its regulated utilities serve more than 3 million customers across Canada and in the United States and the Caribbean. FortisOntario has approximately 3,300 km of distribution and transmission lines.
 
Renewable Energy Systems Inc. (RES) has provided development, engineering, construction, and operations services to the utility-scale wind,solar, transmission, and energy storage markets since 1997. The Company employs more than 300 full-time professionals and has over 8,500 MW of utility and distributed scale renewable energy and energy storage projects and constructed more than 1600 km of transmission lines throughout the U.S., Canada, and Chile.
 
More information is available at:

 

Yes. First Nations currently own 51% of the project, and will increase to 100% over time.
We expect construction to start on Phase 1 (from Hwy 17 to Pickle Lake) in late 2018 and Phase 2 (North of Pickle Lake and Red Lake) in early 2019.
Yes. Before connecting remote communities north of Red Lake and Pickle Lake, the electrical system to Pickle Lake needs upgrading. This upgrade portion is in Phase 1. 
Phase 2 is the connection of the remote First Nation communities north of Red Lake and Pickle Lake. The First Nation leadership directed that Phase 1 does not happen without a plan for Phase 2.
The current schedule anticipates to have all communities connected by 2024. Many communities will be connected before that time starting in 2022. More information on the current project schedule is available at: 
The Wataynikaneyap Power project has strong financial, social, and environmental benefits for First Nations, Ontario, and Canada, which is why it is so important. The First Nation vision is to acquire tangible benefits through equal participation and meaningful involvement. Benefits are:
 
  • First Nation communities working together and controlling development of infrastructure within their traditional lands will be a catalyst for greater prosperity and economic selfdetermination.
  • The Community Readiness project (RERP) is assessing employment, economic, business and training gaps to produce a plan to get communities project ready.
  • The project is projected to represent $1.189 Billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) nationally.
  • There will be over $1 billion saved over 40 years versus continuing with diesel generation.
  • There will be significant training, meaningful employment, direct returns from community ownership, and other financial benefits for First Nation communities.
  • During construction, roughly 260 jobs in Northwestern Ontario and almost 770 across Canada are estimated.
  • Independent Power Authorities (IPA’s) communities will pay the same hydro rates as the Hydro One Remote Communities, Inc, (HORCI) which will decrease significantly.
  • Communities under electrical load restrictions will have reliable clean energy to allow continued development and construction of housing, facilities, and businesses, which will improve health and
    social conditions.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change. 6.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions will be avoided over the next 40 years.
  • Protect the environment from diesel spills.
  • This historic model of First Nation ownership will change the landscape of business and can be applied with other critical projects. An executive summary of the project’s Socioeconomic Impact Analysis conducted by PWC can be found at:
Wataynikaneyap will inform community members and stakeholders using the following:
 
  • Updates to Communities
  • Community Engagement
  • Chiefs and Board Meetings
  • Tribal Council Meetings
  • Local Community Workers
  • Traditional Knowledge Workers
  • Posters, Radio, TV, Bulletins at Band Offices, Surveys, Newsletters, Home visits, Social media
  • You can contact any of these representatives above and/or visit www.wataypower.ca for more project contacts, updates, and
    information.
 
Schedules for upcoming events, such as Environmental Assessment, Community Open Houses and field surveys, will be available through project workers or on the website. To register for our mailing list, or directly ask our team a question, visit the website and type in your question.
The Community Readiness project (RERP) is assessing employment, economic, business and training gaps to produce a plan to get communities project ready.
Yes, there will be jobs available to community members, and training will occur. This is a major focus for Wataynikaneyap and the RERP initiative. Readiness assessments and planning are being done now (2016) so we know where we need to focus efforts with training and determining who is already available for work, and what resources and equipment communities and local companies have. 
 
Part of the assessment will determine what jobs will be available specific to each community and from the rest of the project.
We expect approximately 770 jobs during construction for Phase 1 and Phase 2, (approximately 260 of those in Northwest Ontario) and some on-going jobs during operations and maintenance over the next 40 years.
Phase 1 cost is approximately $200 million. Phase 2, connecting communities north of Red Lake and Pickle Lake, will cost approximately $1.15 billion. For an executive summary of the project’s Feasibility Study conducted by PWC please visit:
Federal and provincial cost savings through the reduction in diesel generation costs together with equity funding from partners will finance the project. The project is expected to save $1 billion in costs over 40 years.
The actual cleared transmission line right-of-way (ROW) will be approximately 40 m (130 ft) wide. This is the area of land that will be cleared to facilitate the safe construction and operation of the transmission line, including the pole infrastructure and associated conductors and anchors.
 
The approximate 40 m (130 ft) wide transmission line ROW dimension is primarily determined by tree fall-clearance and forest fire protection needs. Other considerations for this 40 m (130 ft) standard are factors such as:
 
  • The distance between poles and the resulting sag of the conductor (line) during high use (load) and high temperatures,
  • The dimensions of the cross-arms and insulators,
  • Tree height, and,
  • The lateral sway of conductors/wires during strong crosswinds.
 
Typically there are not access restrictions under transmission lines unless there is:
 
  • Risk to power line workers or other employees associated with the project
  • Public safety concerns, such as a risk of lines touching people or equipment during work
  • Potential for damage to infrastructure including the condition of the ROW and maintenance access trails
  • Requirements for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) work activities
 
Based on these requirements, there may be times during operation and maintenance when access is restricted to a section of the ROW due to work activities. We will work with land users and the communities to provide advanced notice and the general timing of operation and maintenance activities to try and accommodate any of their access requirements. You can still hunt, travel and collect plants where there are no restrictions.
We are working with the communities, land users, stakeholders, and other interested groups/persons to design the project to avoid or minimize effects to the environment and use of land, which requires your input. We are building this line where possible within existing corridors, such as roads, fibre-optic to minimize new impacts.
 
We are conducting a detailed Environmental Assessment (EA) on Phase 1 and Phase 2. For more information please visit:
Yes. We will be assessing the impacts of the project to Treaty and Aboriginal rights, such as hunting, fishing, gathering and trapping.
The traditional knowledge of the land will help form the EA. We will engage for Phase 1 and 2 through the RERP Worker:
 
  • To coordinate with Lands and Resources staff to visit with trappers and land users.
  • To visit with community members to gather traditional knowledge and determine how best to share this information with the project.
  • To ensure confidentiality and protect sensitive information.
 
Please contact your community’s RERP worker, Band Office or Tribal Councils, if you have information about the land that you feel is important for Wataynikaneyap to be aware of, or contact us through:
The detailed design for infrastructure, such as tower/pole height and spacing, will be completed after the 5 km study corridors have been narrowed down to a 40 m (130 ft) wide Right-Of-Way (ROW) using community input, feedback, and through environmental studies during the Environmental Assessment process (see FAQ # 16). Most of the line will use double pole “H” structures, and some sections will use single poles.
 
In areas where single poles are used, a pole will be needed approximately every 183 m (600 ft) depending on the ground conditions. In areas where double pole “H” structures are used, they will be needed approximately every 244m (800ft).
 
The height and distance between poles is determined by the weight of the line, how much ice build-up is expected, and how high the lines need to be above the ground.
We plan to use wood, composite or steel pole structures, depending on the engineering requirements for each section of the line. Steel poles or structures may be required for some water crossings, wet areas, or other areas requiring a large distance span, dependent on the final engineering design of the transmission line. In general we expect the majority of the poles to be wood.
Engineers will determine the best solution to ensure each pole has a suitable foundation. Rock anchors can be used in rocky terrain, poles can be buried below the frost line in areas where the soil is deep enough, and specialized foundations can be used in muskeg and wet areas. Aggregate or concrete can be used to backfill postholes if needed, and wires can be used anywhere where the poles require extra support. Building transmission lines in the boreal forest environment has been done in many locations and we will seek experienced constructors to supervise the work.
The majority of right-of-way clearing work will happen in winter, which will limit the need for permanent access roads along the corridor. The routing is being selected, to a great extent, to be either close to existing roads, or to where future roads are being planned. There will be access trails constructed under lines in some areas, but not a public all-season road. We will also build spurs off of existing roads to access the line in some locations, and some of those spurs will be required as permanent access to the line.
Vegetation will be cleared mechanically during construction (using machines, chainsaws, and brush-saws, etc.).
 
It is expected that vegetation-clearing and maintenance during operation will be done by crews from within the Wataynikaneyap communities. This work will include activities such as hazard tree removal, tree trimming, and brush clearing. The communities directed that there be no use of herbicides on the corridors.
The preliminary proposed study corridors were initially identified based on engagement with and input from the Wataynikaneyap member communities, together with computer modelling using cost and constructability, socio-economic and land use and natural environment criteria. The preliminary proposed study corridors are generally 5 km wide.
 
We are now (early summer 2016) engaging with the communities on the proposed 5 km wide preliminary study corridors to identify sensitive land use areas. The results of this engagement input, along with engineering and environmental factors, will help to identify a 2 km wide study corridor, which will be the focus of the Environmental Assessment.
 
The 2 km study corridor will contain most of the other project components like construction camps, access routes, and equipment staging areas. The cleared corridor (the ROW – right-of-way) will be approximately 40 m (130 ft) wide. We will also be working with communities to identify this final 40 m (130 ft) ROW within the 2 km study corridor. This work will continue as the Environmental Assessment progresses.
Yes. Cut wood will be stacked in piles for shortterm storage along the edge of the ROW. Wood will be made available to community members, but it has not yet been determined how that will occur.
We are working on solutions to make use of as much wood as possible.
The line will be designed to connect both users and generators of electricity.
 
The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for issuing power purchase contracts and the Ontario Energy Board’s Transmission System Code sets out the rules for connecting generators to transmission lines. Wataynikaneyap cannot control those processes. However, the proposed line routing passes near several potential hydro generation sites, and having a transmission line in proximity to a planned hydro generation site is a significant step toward making those projects a reality.
 
The IESO is currently restricting new large renewable generation in the Northwest, Northeast, and Sault regions of the province. Feed-in-Tariff Projects (FIT - less than 0.5 MW) are not restricted.
Wataynikaneyap will be responsible to repair and maintain the power line and poles if damaged. Forest fires, lightening, and other weather such as windstorms and ice, are examples of natural events, which may cause outages and damage to the line and poles. 
 
Additionally, emergency response, outage restoration plans and capability will be developed by Wataynikaneyap to address power outages. Plus, there will be a capital-reinvestment plan set aside to address such costs.
A back up study is being prepared to develop options on how each community local distribution plans to address outages. Wataynikaneyap is solely responsible for transmission.
Wataynikaneyap is not proposing a connection to the Ring of Fire at this time.
Connecting to a transmission line is very expensive and an individual customer has to pay for hook-up outside of the local distribution area.
Your electricity bill comes from your local distribution company - (HORCI,  IPA, HONI). Wataynikaneyap does not bill electricity customers or control electricity rates. The Ontario Energy Board sets electricity rates.
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