Ontario hydropower project wins sustainability award

The 10-MW Okikendawt hydropower project, being developed by Dokis First Nation and Hydromega Services Inc., received the 2014 Pollution Probe Sustainability Award.

This award, established in 2011, celebrates extraordinary achievement by individuals or organizations working toward positive, tangible environmental change and exemplifying in their work the Pollution Probe values: inclusive, independent, non-partisan, results-oriented, focused, evidence-based, learning and innovative. (Pollution Probe is a national, non-profit organization that exists to improve the health and well-being of Canadians by advancing policy that achieves positive, tangible environmental change.)

The Okikendawt project is being built at the Portage Dam on the French River in Ontario. The powerhouse will be located on Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) land. PWGSC operates two control structures on the French River and one control structure on the Little French River used to control the level of Lake Nipissing and to regulate flows on the two rivers.

During development of this hydro project, major efforts were undertaken to advance a number of key goals, including improving walleye fishery habitat, protecting breeding sites of the Blanding’s turtle, preserving ancient archaeological pictographs, planning to reconstitute the traditional Chaudiere portage, and preserving stone “pots” from the portage channel.

In presenting the award to Dokis First Nation Chief Denise Restoule, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said, “The partners have forged a close and collaborative working relationship through the course of project development, financing, construction, and in 2015, operations.”

Dokis First Nation is a community located about 16 km southwest of Lake Nipissing on the French River. The First Nation announced Aug. 19, 2013, that construction of the Okikendawt project had commenced. The facility will sell all power produced to the Ontario Power Authority for a 40-year term through a feed-in tariff power purchase agreement, Dokis First Nation said in a press release.

Hydromega is a member of the Ontario Waterpower Association, and much of the information in this article was taken from a press release issued by OWA.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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