Valard to start work on $1.9B Wataynikaneyap Power project that will connect 17 Ontario First Nations to grid
By David KennedyInfrastructure
More than a dozen remote First Nations communities across Northern Ontario are poised to shut down their diesel generators for good over the next four years as work gets underway on the $1.9 billion Wataynikaneyap Power project.
Utility contractor Valard Construction — a subsidiary of U.S.-based Quanta Services Inc. — was given the green light Oct. 29 to start construction on the power line that will stretch approximately 1,800 kilometres through a sparsely-populated area of northwest Ontario.
The go-ahead followed Wataynikaneyap Power reaching financial close on the project, which included a $1.3 billion loan from the provincial government. The transmission company is majority-owned by 24 First Nations communities, while Fortis Inc. and other private investors hold minority stakes.
“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,” Barry Perry, Fortis’ president and CEO, said in a release. “We are proud to work with our First Nations partners to bring cleaner and more reliable energy to their communities.”
Along with significantly cutting costs by eliminating the need to truck diesel to the communities, the project will decrease Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions by connecting the First Nations with a combined population of about 14,000 people to the far greener and more reliable electricity grid.
Wataynikaneyap Power anticipates the project will create 769 jobs during construction.
Valard, which was awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract for the project in September, is responsible for the design, as well as procuring the materials, equipment and labour to build the transmission line.
The project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2023.