Federal government to announce funding to connect Pikangikum to Ontario power grid

Canada’s Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs is scheduled to be in Thunder Bay, Ont., Thursday to announce funding for a long-awaited power project in the province’s remote north.

Ottawa is slated to announce that Wataynikaneyap Power, a transmission company owned by 22 First Nations, will receive funding to connect Pikangikum to the province’s electricity grid via a 117 kilometre power line from Red Lake.

Pikangikum, like many remote communities, relies on diesel generators which are expensive to run and environmentally unfriendly. They also subject communities to rolling blackouts and electrical load restrictions, which limit the construction of new homes and curtail economic development.

Getting the community connected to the provincial power system is “critically important,” Chief Dean Owen told CBC News in 2016.

A report from the Ontario Power Authority said getting 21 First Nations off diesel generation and onto the provincial power grid will save a billion dollars over 40 years.

In 2016, Ontario officially selected Wataynikaneyap Power to be the company tasked with completing the estimated $1.35-billion project to connect diesel-dependent communities to the power grid.

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