Sandy Lake First Nation Energized by Wataynikaneyap Power

June 25, 2024

Wataynikaneyap Power is pleased to announce the energization of Sandy Lake First Nation. The northern Ontario community was connected to the provincial power grid on April 18, 2024.

“It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the community’s connection to the power grid on Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” Sandy Lake Chief Delores Kakegamic comments. “The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system means more than reliable electricity for the community. It means we can build new homes and buildings, such as our new Health Centre, and connect them to power. It means we will no longer need to react, almost daily, to power outages. It is infrastructure that helps the community, owned by Sandy Lake First Nation itself, as one of the 24 First Nation partnership.”

On June 21, Sandy Lake First Nation invited Wataynikaneyap Power, Opiikapawiin Services, government, and other stakeholders to celebrate this momentous occasion in the community.

“Congratulations to Sandy Lake First Nation!” remarks Margaret Kenequanash, CEO of Wataynikaneyap Power. “I remember in one community engagement session, we were informed that Sandy Lake First Nation just installed two new 2-MW generators, and yet the Chief and Council were very concerned that they were reaching their capacity very quickly. Given the challenges we were dealing with at that time, it seemed impossible that Sandy Lake First Nation would be connected to a reliable power source. But here we are celebrating! I also want to acknowledge former and current Sandy Lake leaders for their advocacy to bring reliable energy into the communities. A growing community like Sandy Lake First Nation needs reliable power to advance community development initiatives, improve infrastructure, and to provide the best for community members. That has been accomplished today.”

Wataynikaneyap Power is majority-owned by an equal partnership of 24 First Nations, in partnership with Fortis Inc. and other private investors, to build and operate the ‘line that brings light’, a $1.9 billion dollar infrastructure project. The 1,800 km Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system will ultimately connect 17 remote First Nations to the Ontario power grid, removing their reliance on diesel-generated electricity.

Eliezar Mckay, First Nation LP Board Chair, states, “This infrastructure allows remote First Nations in Ontario to replace diesel-generation as their primary source of power. I look forward to seeing what opportunities our People will take on now that there is a clean, adequate power supply.”

Sandy Lake First Nation is a remote community located about 600 km northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, near the Manitoba border. There are no all-season roads; it is only accessible by air during the majority of the year and via ice road during the short winter season. The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system connects the Sandy Lake community distribution system to the Ontario grid through approximately 230 km of transmission system, originating from Red Lake, Ontario. Sandy Lake will continue to be served by Hydro One Remotes Communities Inc. (HORCI) for local distribution of electricity.

Sandy Lake was the 12th First Nation connected to the provincial power grid through the Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system.  Currently, 16 First Nations’ assets are energized and 12 are grid connected.  

“The Wataynikaneyap Power transmission system is 100% completed. The rapid pace of construction has been unbelievable, considering ground crews were barely established before the pandemic hit. We will continue to celebrate with each First Nation and share in their excitement as they are able to turn off their diesel generators and finally connect more infrastructure to power. Congratulations Sandy Lake!” remarks Frank Mckay, Board Chair for the Wataynikaneyap Power General Partnership (WPGP).

“On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, Fortis is pleased to congratulate Sandy Lake Chief Delores Kakegamic and community members on this momentous occasion,” said David Hutchens, President and CEO, Fortis Inc. “The new connection to the Ontario electricity grid not only provides reliable, secure power to the people of Sandy Lake but also provides opportunities for growth in the community.”


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