Hydro One Inc., with the support of nine First Nation partners, announced that it has filed an application with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to build and operate the Waasigan Transmission Line. The $1.2 billion infrastructure investment the company is proposing will provide many local economic benefits and support northwest Ontario’s clean energy future.

Phase one of the Waasigan Transmission Line is a proposed new double-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line from Lakehead Transformer Station (TS) in the Municipality of Shuniah to Mackenzie TS in the Town of Atikokan, to be in service as close to the end of 2025 as possible. Phase two, a proposed new single-circuit 230 kilovolt transmission line from Mackenzie TS to Dryden TS in the City of Dryden, is targeted to be in service by the end of 2027. Both phases also include stations enhancements to support energization of the new lines.

“It’s clear that investing in the construction of the Waasigan Transmission Line project will bring affordable, reliable electricity to the Northwest region of the province while increasing economic, health and social opportunities for First Nation communities,” said Greg Rickford, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “By bringing more power to the Northwest, we are opening the door for industry and critical mineral development, and unparalleled prosperity throughout the region.”

Once built, the Waasigan Transmission Line will provide northwest Ontario with clean and reliable electricity to meet forecasted energy demand in the region and support economic growth, job creation and mining operations. The project is being built in partnership with nine First Nations, Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation and eight First Nation communities represented by Gwayakocchigewin Limited Partnership (GLP), who will have the opportunity to invest in a 50 per cent equity stake in the transmission line component of the project.

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“We are very pleased to see continued progress on the Waasigan Transmission Line which will attract economic opportunities to the north while ensuring that Ontario’s grid is clean, reliable and resilient,” said David Lebeter, president and CEO, Hydro One. “This project is also a major step forward on our commitment to advancing Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #92 with real action on Economic Reconciliation and represents a true partnership between Hydro One and Indigenous communities.”

The GLP First Nations include Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, Eagle Lake First Nation, Lac La Croix First Nation, Fort William First Nation, Seine River First Nation, Lac Seul First Nation, Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation, and the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen.

“GLP First Nations support sharing of the land for this important Project, and will ensure development respects our laws, customs, protocols, and people,” said Tom Johnson, President of Gwayakocchigewin LP.  “We look forward to continued progress with Hydro One and our people benefiting for generations from this partnership.”

“The Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation is pleased to partner with Hydro One on its application to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to build and operate the Waasigan Transmission Line,” Chief Whitecloud, Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation. “Since 2019, our First Nation has worked closely with Hydro One on this project and we are excited to take this next step in its development. The Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation is not only looking forward to the benefits of this project, but also to continuing to develop and strengthen our relationship with Hydro One.”

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Throughout the duration of the project, Hydro One will work with Indigenous communities and its construction partner, Valard Construction LP (Valard), to establish shared project values and expectations. For more than four years, the company has been engaged with the community to ensure the Waasigan Transmission Line is built with community values in mind.

Filing a leave to construct application under Section 92 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, is a requirement for Ontario electricity transmitters and distributors to obtain approval from the OEB to construct, expand, or reinforce electricity transmission and distribution lines or interconnections. The application submitted by Hydro One provides details of the project, such as timing, route, design and cost.

Presently, Hydro One is incorporating all the feedback it received during its draft Environmental Assessment Report public review period into a final report that will be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, for final review and decision. Completion of the line is contingent on Indigenous and stakeholder consultation as well as regulatory approvals.

“As our region continues to grow, particularly as a result of the unprecedented development of new mines, more reliable electricity is needed to fuel the economy of the Northwest, and the Waasigan Transmission Line will do just that,” said Iain Angus, Chair, Common Voice Northwest Energy Task Force.

“We will continue to work together with Hydro One to bring a reliable supply of electricity to our community through this project and others.”

Featured image: (Hydro One)

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