Wataynikaneyap Power officially announced today that it has achieved financial close and issued the notice to proceed to Valard LP (Valard) for construction of the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project.

The Project will build approximately 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines in Northwestern Ontario to connect 17 remote First Nations communities to the Ontario power grid. Pikangikum First Nation was the first community to be connected in December 2018.

“Indigenous Peoples are very patient and resilient – they have been talking about energy for 28 years,” said Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “Today we place our mark on history as we work towards a shared vision which will form the foundation for our future generations. We celebrate the moment of truth today but tomorrow our commitment to the tasks before us becomes very real as the work begins in our effort to connect our First Nation communities on time.”

The project will supply clean, reliable energy to thousands of residents across the region and will eliminate the financially unsustainable and environmentally risky reliance on costly diesel generation. It will also create an estimated 769 jobs during construction, close to $900 million in socio-economic value, along with many other new economic opportunities.

“Today marks a significant milestone for the 17 First Nations communities who will be connected to the main electricity grid in Ontario for the first time,” said Barry Perry, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fortis. “We are proud to work with our First Nations partners to bring cleaner and more reliable energy to their communities.”

The Project will avoid an estimated 6.6 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent GHG emissions over 40 years, contributing to a focus on cleaner energy.

“I would like to recognize the hard work of the Project Team on achieving financial close so we can issue the Notice to Proceed for the construction of the line that brings light,” said Eliezar Mckay, Chair of the First Nations Limited Partnership. “This significant milestone is only possible through cooperation and with the patience and support of our people as part of the bigger vision of building and owning a transmission line – we share in the excitement of this historic occasion.”

The Notice to Proceed follows the financial close for the project. Construction and project financing are now in place to fund a total project cost of up to $1.9 billion.

The project is targeted for completion by the end of 2023. Valard is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the Wataynikaneyap Power Transmission Project. The company was awarded the contract to design, procure materials and equipment, and build the 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines on September 6, 2019.

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