Ministry of Energy News Release: Ontario Selects Wataynikaneyap Power to Connect Remote First Nation Communities to Electricity Grid

Province Moving Forward to Help Fight Climate Change, Grow Economy

July 29, 2016 – Ontario has selected Wataynikaneyap Power LP (Watay) to connect 16 remote First Nation communities that currently rely on diesel power to the province’s electricity grid.

Once complete, the project will provide more than 10,000 people living in remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario with a reliable, clean supply of electricity. Watay Power plans to begin construction work starting in 2018, once all approvals are secured, with the goal of completing construction and connecting communities by 2024.

Watay Power is an unprecedented partnership between a consortium of 20 First Nation communities and a transmission partner, Fortis Ontario and RES Canada (RES/FortisOntario).

Connecting these communities and replacing diesel-fired electricity with clean power would reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and support jobs and economic growth. The project is expected to create over 680 jobs in Ontario during the construction period and save about $1 billion over the life of the project compared to continued use of costly diesel fuel and support long-term economic opportunities.

Connecting remote First Nations to the electricity grid is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education.

The plan is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and transit in Ontario’s history and is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Quick Facts

  • Watay Power’s next steps will be to apply to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for Leave to Construct the project, as well as to complete all necessary environmental assessment work. Ontario will also ensure that the Crown’s duty to consult obligations are fulfilled, before the project proceeds to construction.
  • Ontario has identified the project as a priority. Priority designation allows key transmission infrastructure to be considered without undergoing a ‘needs’ test by the OEB, ensuring that critical transmission infrastructure is built in a timely manner.
  • The connection of remote First Nation communities was identified in Ontario’s 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan as a key step towards providing a reliable, clean and affordable energy future for everyone in the province. In addition to the sixteen communities identified in Watay’s current plan, there are five other remote communities that can be expected to be connected to the grid in the near future.
  • Ontario will explore innovative, on-site solutions for the few remaining communities where there may be more cost-effective solutions to grid connection, in an effort to reduce diesel use. This includes support for the development of renewable micro-grid solutions through the Green Investment Fund and the Climate Change Action Plan.
  • Ontario is continuing to lead in the growth of the low-carbon economy through the province’s Climate Change Action Plan, which will provide people and businesses with tools and incentives to accelerate the use of clean technology that exists today. Through this plan, the province will continue to reduce greenhouse gas pollution to fight climate change.


“Grid connecting remote First Nation communities and eliminating diesel use will improve quality of life, reduce harmful emissions, and create jobs. Selecting Watay Power as the transmitter for this project advances our goal of providing reliable, clean and affordable electricity for everyone in the province.”

Glenn Thibeault
Minister of Energy

“Connecting remote First Nation communities in northwestern Ontario to the electricity grid is a practical example of Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. By reducing the reliance on high-cost diesel fuel and increasing opportunities for new jobs and businesses we are helping to improve the quality of life for those who live in these communities.”

David Zimmer
Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

“This is fantastic news for these communities. Ensuring remote First Nation communities are connected to the energy grid will go a long way toward promoting socio-economic developments for the communities and their residents.”

Michael Gravelle
Minister of Northern Development and Mines

“Many communities are in crisis situation due to limited generation capacity compromising the health and safety of the people. Today’s commitment, and the prospect of grid connection, will change the landscape of how we do business moving forward. Our communities won’t have to rely on expensive, dirty diesel fuel to provide power for basic needs like food, shelter and water. Today’s decision puts us one step closer to achieving the vision of owning major infrastructure and having meaningful participation and benefitting from development on our traditional homelands.”

Margaret Kenequanash
Chair of Wataynikaneyap Power

Media Contacts

Katrina Xavier
Minister’s Office

Aslan Hart