Celebration marks opening of Ontario’s 18.9-MW Gitchi Animki hydropower plant

Canadian utility Regional Power Inc. and the Pic Mobert First Nation last week celebrated the grand opening of their 18.9-MW Gitchi Animki hydroelectric plant, located in White River, Ontario.

The project, includes two generating stations, called Gitchi Animki Bezhig and Gitchi Animki Niizh, and is located in the traditional territory of the Netamasakomik People of the Pic Mobert First Nation. The plant is also located within a provincial park, leading to close cooperation with Ontario Parks for various recreational initiatives.

The plant’s facilities replace an old Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regulating dam used to manage lake levels and flood flows on White Lake. The old infrastructure was evaluated as needing significant repairs, making Gitchi Animki an attractive alternative.

“Two decades of collaboration and commitment have gone into the opening of Gitchi Animki,” said the Hon. Glenn Thibeault, Ontario Minister of Energy. “Partnerships like this one help take steps forward in Ontario’s journey of reconciliation with indigenous people and support economic development opportunities in their communities.”

The project was one of the first contracted under the Ontario Power Authority’s feed-in tariff program. Three members of the Pic Mobert First Nation are being hired and trained to operate the facility.

“This project represents a significant investment in northern Ontario,” said Ontario Waterpower Association President Paul Norris. “The province has significant untapped waterpower potential that, particularly in the context of climate change, could contribute even more to meeting our electricity requirements.”

HydroWorld.com reported that the developer, a collaboration called Pic Mobert Hydro Power Joint Venture, broke ground on the project in October 2013.

The plant was constructed by Spain’s Actividades de Construccion y Servicios (ACS), which was selected in August 2013.

Funding for the project was provided by Canadian renewable investor Manulife Financial, with the joint venture crediting the Ontario government and province’s power authority for their help as well.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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