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Pikangikum is finally on the grid

Watay Power hooks up its first of 17 remote Indigenous communities to the provincial network

Pikangikum First Nation is the first remote Indigenous community in northwestern Ontario to be officially connected to the provincial grid as part of the massive Wataynikaneyap (Watay) Power Transmission Line Project.

The milestone will be marked Dec.20 by the lighting of a community Christmas tree, followed by a feast.

Construction began in the fall of 2017 to build the 117-kilometre power line from Red Lake into the distribution system at Pikangikum as part of the first phase of the $1.6-billion development.

PowerTel Utilities Contractors from Whitefish, near Sudbury, was picked in the fall of last year as the general contractor to build the line.

A news release by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) celebrated the momentous day and the shutdown of the community’s diesel generator.

“This is an enormous achievement and I congratulate Chief Dean Owen and council for their years of effort to secure a connection to the provincial electricity grid,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler in a statement.

“Connecting our remote communities to the provincial grid is better for the environment and will help improve the lives of our members."

Pikangikum is one of the larger First Nation communities in Northern Ontario with an on-reserve population of 2,300.

The Watay Power Project was launched in 2015 with a mission to construct 1,800 kilometres of transmission lines to connect 17 First Nation communities to the provincial grid for the first time.