Six Nations negotiates tentative deal, Niagara Reinforcement Line may go ahead

 Towers have sat idle since 2006 Six Nations land Reclamation

By Lynda Powless

Editor

SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER- The Six Nations Band Council  and the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation(SNGRDC) have negotiated a tentative agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Hydro One that would see the controversial Niagara Reinforcement Line (NRL),  stopped during the 2006 Reclamation of lands at he former Douglas Creek Estates, proceed.

After four years of negotiations the SNGRDC  announced Friday (Oct 13, 2017) it will begin a 60 day community consultation at Six Nations next week on what it sees  as a long-term value for the community.

A portion of the towers had been used to block roads during the Reclamation (Turtle Island News photo)

The $116 million transmission line was almost completed 11 years ago.  The 76 kilometre line was  and slated to bring power into Ontario from Niagara Falls  New York to the area. The project came to an abrupt stop when Six Nations people stopped a subdivision being built on Six Nations unceded lands just outside Caledonia. The NRL’s final connection point is at the Highway Six bypass  at Caledonia. Hydro One has been unable to complete the last five kilometres of the power line since the Caledonia land claim dispute  blocked the line. The power line was designed to bring 800 megawatts of electricity into southern Ontario, the same amount of power the province  would get from just one of its nuclear reactors.

The  land ownership dispute led to the  2006 Reclamation of Six Nations lands, road barricades that went on for the entire summer as Ontario, Ottawa and both  the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council representatives and Six Nations Elected Band Council representatives engaged in negotiations. Those negotiations lasted until 2010 when Six Nations Band Council  first, then Ontario pulled out. Ontario said at the time it didn’t need the electricity immediately because the recession had slowed manufacturing.

The disruption meant Hydro One sought and received permission from the province in 2007 to bill Ontario taxpayers for its interest payment on the $116 million capital cost of the stalled power line. As of 2015 that had amounted to nearly $50 million in interest on the power line that still is not transmitting any electricity.

 

 

 

The NRL route

Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) and SNGRDC began “engaging in high level exploratory talks with the Province to arrive at a solution that would be beneficial for all parties, however nothing substantial was achieved at that time,” in 2013. The talks continued in August 2016 when SNGRDC proposed a three-phase bundled solution to ENERGY and Hydro One. The three phases, the SNGRD says  “will Energize, Acquire and Optimize Six Nations’ energy portfolio.”

They include:

  • Energize:Hydro One is committed to offering a contract opportunity to SNGRDC’s joint venture with the Aecon Group –A6N Utilities (A6N), to complete the remaining NRL transmission work.
  • Acquire:Equity Ownership in the Line – SNGRDC will purchase 25% ownership in the line for approx. $13 million which will be financed using an Aboriginal Loan Guarantee from the province of Ontario.
  • Optimize: In addition, ENERGY will grant a Renewable Energy capacity set-aside to Six Nations of the Grand River, to be used by SNGRDC on behalf of Six Nations, for up to 300 megawatts of new projects within the region, if further renewable generation is needed in the future.

 Six Nations Elected Chief Ava Hill , in a press release said  “This project will create local employment opportunities while generating long-term economic benefits for our community,” said Chief Ava Hill, Six Nations Elected Council.

“Hydro One is committed to working with Six Nations to move this project forward under the principles of open communication and cooperation,” said Derek Chum, Vice President, Indigenous Relations at Hydro One said in a statement.  “This project will not only strengthen the working relationship between Hydro One and Six Nations, but will also provide long-term economic benefits for the community.”

“Our government supports Indigenous participation in the energy sector and remains committed to ensure these opportunities continue, including partnerships on major transmission line projects such as the Niagara Reinforcement Project” said Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy said in a statement.

“The 300 mega-watt set aside will allow our community to take a lead role in the construction and management of new renewable energy projects in this region,” said Matt Jamieson, President/CEO of SNGRDC said in a statement released Friday.  “SNGRDC is always looking to find new and inventive ways to invest in renewable energy to bring economic benefits to the people of Six Nations. SNGRDC believes investing in renewable energy means investing in the future and our generations yet to come.”

Community members are encouraged to attend an engagement session to learn more.. For more information visit www.snfuture.com

The Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC)  was created by the Six Nations Band council and now manages  Six Nations’ revenue generating  projects and  any economic interests, including overseeing  14 renewable energy projects the community is engaged in.

The Six Nations community’s green energy portfolio is capable of producing nearly 900 MW of renewable energy through its direct or indirect involvement in seven wind, six solar and one hydroelectric project(s).   The development corporation,  located on the Six Nations Reserve,  employs over 140 people through  various Nation Enterprises or  in the administration of Economic Interests projects.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Council  has not commented on the project or negotiations.

For more information please visit www.sndevcorp.ca

 

 

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