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OPG, Lac Seul are northwestern Ontario's power couple

Utility and First Nation mark 10-year anniversary of equity partnership in hydroelectric station
Lac Seul Generating Station at Ear Falls (OPG photo)

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Lac Seul First Nation are celebrating a 10-year anniversary of a commercial partnership with a hydroelectric plant in northwestern Ontario.

The equity partnership in the Lac Seul Generating Station stems from a 2006 grievance settlement that addressed the effect of hydropower facilities that were built between 1930 and 1948 on traditional lands of Lac Seul on the English River system. The agreement was signed in December 2008.

The 10-year-old station was built next to the Ear Falls Generating Station and also goes by the Ojibway name of Obishikokaang Waasiganikewigamig, the first part meaning White Pine Narrows – the original name of the area – with the second part meaning electricity-generating building. Lac Seul has a 25 per cent equity share in the station, which provides a revenue stream for the community.

The 12-megawatt hydroelectric facility provides power to meet the annual needs of 5,000 homes.

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Back in 2009, the agreement between the provincial utility and the First Nation was considered a trailblazing model for development that the government hoped could be replicated across Ontario.

"This partnership is a model that OPG has followed in developing other projects, including the Lower Mattagami River Project, Peter Sutherland Project and the Nanticoke Solar Project," said Mike Martelli, OPG's president of renewable generation, in an Aug. 27 news release.

"I would like to acknowledge the previous leaders who were instrumental in negotiating this partnership," said Lac Seul Chief Derek Maud. "I would like to thank OPG for their willingness to work with our community to create future opportunities for our members in the energy sector."

Provincial Indigenous Affairs Minister Greg Rickford congratulated the parties on this landmark anniversary.

"Indigenous communities are critical partners in Ontario's energy sector and Obishikokaang Waasiganikewigamig/Lac Seul Generating Station is a wonderful example of how successful these partnerships can be."