Purpose & History

2008 - Pursue Connection to the Provincial Electricity Grid

The original Central Corridor Energy Group (“CCEG”) included 13 communities: Bearskin Lake FN, Cat Lake FN, North Caribou Lake FN, Sachigo Lake FN, Kingfisher Lake FN, Wunnumin Lake FN, Wapekeka FN, Kasabonika Lake FN, Wawakapewin FN, Muskrat Dam FN, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, *Mishkeegogamang FN, and *Saugeen FN (*no longer participating Jan 2009). Mandated by Tribal Council Resolution, the goal was to pursue the planning and development of an electrical transmission line for these communities to connect to the Provincial Electricity Grid. CCEG held a dozen meetings over the first two years. The idea was to set up a transmission company controlled and owned by First Nations. In November 2009, the Study was complete, identifying a route to connect 10 off-grid communities. The work completed was on a limited budget. All members of CCEG agreed that any and all proposals require extensive consultations. Steps were being taken to secure funding to allow community engagement to coincide with the development of the Business Plan.

2013 - Accessibility, Reliability, and Capacity

Connecting Remote First Nations Communities

In 2013, the provincial government has stated: “Connecting the remote communities is a priority for Ontario.”  The *Independent Electricity System Operator (“IESO” formerly “OPA”) had developed a draft report to assess the economic feasibility of connecting remote First Nation communities and to serve as a baseline of technical options for connection. The results of this draft report indicated that connecting 21 remote First Nations communities would result in an estimated $1 billion in savings compared to continued diesel use over the next 40 years. 

In 2013, Wataynikaneyap engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assess the financial feasibility of connecting the remote communities

In January 2014, PwC was engaged by Wataynikaneyap to update the Financial Feasibility Study to reflect the addition of five communities:

  • Deer Lake First Nation;
  • Poplar Hill First Nation;
  • North Spirit Lake First Nation;
  • Keewaywin First Nation; and
  • McDowell Lake First Nation

In January 2015, PwC was engaged to do a further update to the Financial Feasibility Study reflecting:

  • The addition of Sandy Lake First Nation to the Wataynikaneyap group and this financial feasibility analysis;
  • A new fuel price forecast provided by the IESO;
  • Revised growth capital costs and applicable federal subsidies provided by AANDC;
  • Updated capital costs and project schedule information, notably a revised in-service date of January 1, 2021; and
  • Other updates such as updated cost of capital information from the Ontario Energy Board (“OEB”).

The estimated cost for diesel generation for Wataynikaneyap's 16 remote communities in 2013 was $43 million, and this cost was projected to grow with load growth, fuel price, and other costs. PwC estimated a net present value of $1.15 billion in savings by building and operating a transmission system rather than continued diesel generation over 40 years. In order to connect remote First Nations communities, the *IESO has identified a need to improve system reliability, integrity, and load supply capability into both the Pickle Lake and Red Lake areas.

July 26th, 2016 – The First Nations Partnership in Wataynikaneyap grows to 22 communities with the addition of Pikangikum FN and Lac des Milles Lacs FN.

July 29th, 2016 – Wataynikaneyap Power was Designated by the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Energy, to undertake the planning, development, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project.

*Ontario Power Association (OPA) merged with IESO in January 2015

Pickle Lake Area Transmission System

The existing E1C line that runs from Ear Falls to Pickle Lake is more than 70 years old. It is Ontario’s worst performing 115kV line. Incremental losses are over 40% and, on average over the past 10 years, there are 14 unplanned outages per year. This compares to the average of about three unplanned outages per year for customers served by the other 115kV lines in Northwestern Ontario. In addition to increasing load supply capability, the new line to Pickle Lake would provide additional operating flexibility in the north of Dryden region, significantly reduce line losses and outages, and supply forecasted load requirements. The following loads have been identified in the Pickle Lake region;

In order to serve the long-term needs of the region, a 230 kV line design will be required. Based on the OEB’s Transmission System Code, a new 230 kV line to Pickle Lake would be classified as a Network Asset.

Red Lake Area Transmission System

The 115kV E4D and E2R lines currently supply the Red Lake area. There are six remote communities located along a corridor north of Red Lake. These communities have an existing load of 6 MW, which is forecast by the OPA to grow to 13 MW by 2033 and 29 MW by 2053.

At present, there is insufficient power capacity in the Red Lake area to supply the subsystem. Including the six remote communities, the Ontario Power Authority has estimated the following incremental capacity needs in the Red Lake region:

OPA Estimated Incremental Capacity Needs

Hydro One Networks Inc. (“HONI”) owns and operates transmission lines E4D and E2R and has confirmed that they can be upgraded to increase the load meeting capability of the Red Lake subsystem. To enable this higher transmission capability, additional voltage control would also be required at Ear Falls TS. Hydro One has indicated that upgrading E4D and E2R and the installation of the required voltage control devices would take up to two years. The work was initiated by Hydro One in October 2013.

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