Torys is acting as project counsel to Wataynikaneyap Power, a partnership between 24 First Nation Communities and Fortis Inc., in ongoing advice to the partnership on all commercial and regulatory matters related to the development, construction, financing and operation of the C$1.9 billion Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project, a 1,744 km transmission system in northwestern Ontario, one of the largest First Nations-led infrastructure projects in Canada’s history.
The project won IJGlobal's 2019 North America Transmission Deal of the Year.
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, watch this video of the Project's first connection to Ontario’s power grid, including 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 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.
On December 20, 2018, Pikangikum First Nation announced its connection to the Ontario power grid, becoming the first community to connect via the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project.
On April 2, 2019, Wataynikaneyap Power announced 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 enables the Project to operate within a financially viable rate framework that accommodates the Project’s funding framework.
On July 22, 2019, Wataynikaneyap Power announced the signing of agreements with the Government of Canada formalizing Canada’s support of C$1.6 billion for the Northern Ontario grid connection.
On September 10, 2019, selection of the EPC contractor was announced as Valard Construction (“Valard”). Valard’s scope of work on the Project consists of EPC services for the more than 1,800 km of transmission and distribution infrastructure ranging in voltage from 25 kV to 230 kV, as well as 22 substations.
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. Further details on the financial close can be found on Wataynikaneyap Power’s website and at news.ontario.ca.
Further information on the project can be also be found on Wataynikaneyap Power’s website.
Torys is acting 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.
Torys also acted on the following in connection with this project:
Wataynikaneyap Power, a partnership between 24 First Nation Communities and Fortis Inc., in connection with a variety of construction advisory matters related to the development of the C$1.9 billion Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project, a 1,744 km transmission system in northwestern Ontario connecting multiple Ontario First Nations to the power grid
Wataynikaneyap Power in the selection of a transmission partner and negotiation of the related partnership arrangements with FortisOntario Inc. for the Wataynikaneyap Transmission Project, a 1,744 km transmission system in northwestern Ontario