Private equity group, Ontario First Nations to develop 2-phase project, starting with 230-kV line

Private equity group Morgan Geare is teaming up with two First Nations in Ontario to develop a new 230-kV line from Ignace to Pickle Lake, Morgan Geare managing partner James Gillis told TransmissionHub Oct. 4.

The equity group has formed a new energy infrastructure joint venture, Sagatay Transmission L.P., with Mishkeegogamang First Nation and the Ojibway Nation of Saugeen First Nation to plan and develop the C$250m line, which is the first phase of a two-phase project that will provide power to northern communities and businesses, according to Sept. 23 statement.

The line will enable the transition from diesel-fired power systems that are common in most remote First Nations in the region, as well as deliver energy to northern industries, including the Ring of Fire mineral resource developments. The proposed project would follow the existing right of way along Highway 599 from Ignace north to Pickle Lake, minimizing environmental and social impacts, the statement continued.

Gillis, a previous energy investment banker and Ontario deputy minister, formed Morgan Geare with a few partners.

“We partnered with the two local First Nations to develop the project,” which will cross the reserves as well as traditional territories, he said. The First Nations are hopeful the project brings economic development opportunities and jobs, he said.

“This project will cut right through the heart of our traditional territory, and so we are extremely pleased to be in a position to work to minimize its impact, while optimizing the benefits for our people,” Chief Edward Machimity of Saugeen First Nation said in the statement.

The project needs certain approvals, including an environmental assessment approval as well as approval from the Ontario Energy Board, Gillis said. If approved, construction on the first phase, which has a length of about 150 miles, would begin in 2013 and end in 2014, with an in-service date by 2015. Construction on the project’s second phase, which entails 230-kV, 115-kV and 44-kV lines, and has a length of about 650 miles, would likely begin in 2014.

The entire project, which is expected to cost about C$1.2bn, may be fully operational in 2017/2018, Gillis added. 

The government of Ontario has recognized this project in its long-term energy plan, released in November 2010, according to the statement. According to Ontario’s Ministry of Energy, key features of the plan note that demand will grow about 15% between 2010 and 2030; Ontario will be coal-free by 2014; and Ontario’s target for renewable energy from wind, solar and bioenergy is 10,700 MW by 2018, excluding hydroelectric – accommodated through transmission expansion and maximizing the use of the existing system.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3112 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.