Pic Mobert celebrates Gitchi Animki Hydroelectric Project
Pic Mobert recently celebrated the ground breaking of the Gitchi Animki Hydroelectric Project on its traditional territory on the White River.
“This is the greatest economic achievement of our nation and people in our modern history,” said Pic Mobert Chief Johanna Desmoulin. “This has been a long journey that has been motivated and energized by our people who will benefit from this work for many generations.”
Undertaken by the Pic Mobert Hydro Power Joint Venture, a joint venture of subsidiary companies of the Pic Mobert First Nation and Regional Power Inc., the project consists of two water power generating stations with a combined generating capacity of 18.9 MW — Gitchi Animki Bezhig and Gitchi Animki Niizh.
“I always believed that this day would come,” said Pic Mobert Councillor Wayne Sabourin, who acted as the community’s lead and champion for the project since 2000. “I was never discouraged – this is a dream that I had for my children, and we didn’t stop until we got there.”
Gitchi Animki Bezhig is scheduled to replace the function of an old Ministry of Natural Resources’ regulating dam that manages lake levels and flood flows on White Lake once it is completed.
“It’s been a long and challenging journey, but we have shared the community’s vision from the start, and are delighted to have achieved this significant milestone”, said Colin Coolican, president of Regional Power.
Primary financing for the project was provided by Manulife Financial, the leading Canadian project finance lender in the renewable energy field.
“The range and extent of support of assistance from Ontario, Canada and the Ontario Power Authority, has been tremendous and timely,” said Norman Jaehrling, managing director for the Gitchi Animki Energy Corporation, which holds Pic Mobert’s ownership interest in the venture.
“Beyond financial assistance, the support and contributions of the various levels of government and local and regional stakeholders that we interacted with during the development process have been valued, and we believe have contributed to a very successful project design and plan.”
Construction and commissioning of the project is expected to take about two years, with up to 125 people working on the construction site at the peak of construction.
The two generating stations are located south of the Pic Mobert community.
The site development rights for the project were originally secured by former Pic Mobert chief James Kwissiwa and former chief Peter Desmoulin. The original memorandum of understanding with Regional Power was signed by former chief John Kwissiwa and the original joint venture agreement by former chief Jeff Desmoulin.
Chief Desmoulin is currently leading the project through its final stages of development and into construction.
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