Provincial utility Ontario Power Generation and its First Nation partners commissioned the 12.5-MW Lac Seul hydroelectric project April 14, calling it a model for the development of additional hydro plants in Ontario.
Lac Seul, an extension of Ontario Power Generation’s 18.5-MW Ear Falls project, actually began operation in February on Ontario’s English River. (HNN 1/5/09)
Ontario Deputy Premier George Smitherman joined dignitaries from Ontario Power Generation, Lac Seul First Nation, and the city of Ear Falls at the project’s official opening. Smitherman, who also is Ontario’s minister of energy and infrastructure, called Lac Seul a trailblazer for a new cooperative model that the government hopes to build on through its proposed Green Energy Act.
OPG and Lac Seul First Nation signed an agreement Dec. 19, 2008, formally creating the equity partnership under which the First Nation purchased 25 percent of Lac Seul, also called Obishikokaang Waasiganikewigamig. Future profits and risks are to be shared by both parties. The new project generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 5,000 homes.
The partnership stemmed from a 2006 grievance settlement that addressed the effect of hydropower facilities that were built between 1930 and 1948 on traditional lands of the Lac Seul First Nation on the English River system.
In January, OPG Chairman Jake Epp said the partnership marked a new way of doing business for the utility. He added OPG would use the approach taken to reach agreement for Lac Seul to develop similar projects with other First Nations.