In 1997, NCN began negotiating with Manitoba Hydro to develop a 200-megawatt hydroelectric power dam at Taskinigahp Falls on the Burntwood River within the Nelson House Resource Management Area.
NCN's participation was coordinated through its Future Development Team. The project offers considerable economic benefits to NCN through jobs, training and business opportunities during construction and long-term benefits through sustainable income to NCN from power sales.
An extensive environmental impact assessment was completed. The Manitoba Clean Environment Commission considered the economic and environmental issues as part of nearly four months of hearings on the project, which concluded June 9, 2004. It issued its report to the Manitoba Minister of Conservation,
October 4, 2004, recommending the Wuskwatim project go forward.
NCN had significant input into development of the Environmental Impact Statements, using Traditional Knowledge integrated with scientific knowledge.
NCN also consulted with federal regulators, resulting in Canada's Comprehensive Study Report, issued in November 2005. The report concludes the Wuskwatim Generating Project "is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects."
Hydro and NCN signed a non-binding Agreement in Principle for the project in 2001 that would provide for an equity partnership in the project if NCN elects to exercise that option. The process of negotiations resulted in a Summary of Understandings, which formed the outline of a Project Development Agreement.
NCN Members voted to ratify the PDA in June 2006. The PDA was signed on June 26 by representatives of Manitoba Hydro and Nisichawayasihk Chief and Council in a colourful ceremony attended by several hundred people, including Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, seven members of the Manitoba government, as well as representatives of the federal government led by Rod Bruinooge, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Undersecretary for Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Also attending were a large number of senior Hydro officials, several regional First Nation Chiefs and other government and business leaders from across northern Manitoba.
Unforeseen at the time of the PDA signing were major changes in the global economy that could affect the viability of NCN's investment. These included:
- The near collapse of the global economy in 2008,
- The significant rise in the value of the Canadian dollar,
- Escalating costs for the project,
- The decreasing demand and pricing for export energy due to global recession and abundant cheap natural gas from fracking for electricity generation
- Terms on the Keeyask agreement not available in the Wuskwatim PDA.
This resulted in agreement to conduct a PDA review process starting in 2009 that culminated in a supplementary agreement provided additional loan option for NCN and an extension of the deadline for NCN to pay for its 33 percent ownership.
Click here to visit an archive of information related to the PDA Review process.
Construction was expected to take six years to complete with the first turbine generator going into service June 22, 2012 and the final turbine generator going into service in October 2012.
Read More About the Project
A Change From the Past
A Cooperative Approach
Extensive Community Consultation
Use of Traditional Knowledge
Benefits of the Project