Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project

December 01, 2018

Torys is project counsel to Wataynikaneyap Power, a partnership between 24 First Nations and FortisOntario Inc., on the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project. Torys has acted on the project since 2013 and has advised on a wide range of commercial, regulatory and strategic matters related to the development, construction, financing and operation of the C$1.9 billion project. The project, over ten years in the making, involves the construction of a 1,725 km transmission system in northwestern Ontario to connect 17 remote First Nations communities to the provincial electricity system, and is the largest First Nations-led infrastructure project in Canada’s history.

An Electricity Pylon At Sunset

Province:   Ontario    
Country:   Canada
 
Client Name:   Wataynikaneyap Power
Client Role:   Developer
Project Value:   $1,900,000,000 CAD

The Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project (“the Project”) is an unprecedented undertaking that will supply clean, reliable energy to thousands of residents in remote First Nations communities across Northwestern Ontario and will eliminate the financially unsustainable and environmentally risky reliance on diesel generation. Wataynikaneyap is 51% owned by 24 First Nations and 49% by FortisOntario Inc. and Fortis Inc.

For a deeper look at the impact of this ground-breaking project and partnership, see video here which shows the first connection via the Project to Ontario’s power grid and includes interviews with various officers and directors of the Project.

Key milestones of the Project and on which Torys advised include:

On November 5, 2018, Wataynikaneyap Power announced that its pre-qualified proponents received the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) Request for Proposals (“RFP”) package. Submissions were received and subsequently evaluated by Wataykineyap Power, Torys LLP and Hatch Ltd., and then negotiations of the EPC contract commenced with the preferred proponent. Further information can be found here.

On December 20, 2018, Pikangikum First Nation became the first community to connect to the Ontario power grid via the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project. You can learn more about Pikangikum First Nation’s joining the grid here.

On April 2, 2019, Wataynikaneyap Power received approval from the Ontario Energy Board on its application for leave to construct the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project. In addition to granting permission to construct the Project, the Ontario Energy Board approved Wataynikaneyap Power’s request for a unique cost recovery and rate framework, which enable the Project to operate within a financially viable rate framework that accommodates the Project’s funding framework. Further information on the leave to construct approval can be found here.

On July 22, 2019, Wataynikaneyap Power and the Government of Canada signed agreements that formalized Canada’s support of C$1.6 billion for the Northern Ontario grid connection. The funding announcement can be found here.

On September 10, 2019, it was announced that Valard Construction (“Valard”) was selected as the EPC contractor for the Project. Valard’s scope of work on the Project consists of EPC services for more than 1,800 kilometers of transmission and distribution infrastructure ranging in voltage from 25kV to 230kV and 22 substations. Further information can be found here.

On October 29, 2019, Wataynikaneyap Power announced it achieved financial close of its debt financing and issued Notice to Proceed to Valard for construction of the Project. Equity and project financing are now in place to fund a total project cost of up to C$1.9 billion. The debt financing was comprised of a C$1.34 billion loan from the Ontario government and a C$680 million loan from a syndicate of five Canadian Schedule I banks. The Project is targeted for completion by the end of 2023. Information on the financial close can be found here and here.

Further information on the project can be found on Wataynikaneyap Power’s website.

Torys is representing Wataynikaneyap Power as project counsel with a team that includes Valerie Helbronner, Adam Banack, Henry Ren, Marshall Rossiter and Claire Chapman (projects), Charles Keizer, Jonathan Myers and Tim Pavlov (energy regulatory), Valerie Helbronner, Jonathan Weisz, Simon Williams, Jacob Weinstock and Erin Shin (financing), Dennis Mahony and Tyson Dyck (environmental) and Andy Gibbons (real estate).

A Torys team, led by Valerie Helbronner and Krista Hill, also advised Wataynikaneyap Power at the outset of the project on the selection of a transmission partner, as well as the negotiation of the resulting partnership arrangements with FortisOntario Inc.

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