Power corridor runs south from Henvey Inlet First Nation to Seguin Township
SEGUIN TWP. – Henvey Inlet Wind has declined a proposal to string fibre optic cable along its yet-to-be built transmission corridor.
In February the West Parry Sound Smart Community Network Inc., with support from The Archipelago, Carling, McDougall and Seguin townships officially asked Henvey Inlet Wind if it could string fibre optic cable along the 68-kilometre transmission corridor that runs through McDougall from the wind farm into Seguin Township.
The Smart Community Network, with municipal and public members, aims to bring fibre optic broadband internet to the region to improve business, education and personal use.
In a letter to Smart Community Network Chair Lis McWalter dated May 18, Henvey Inlet Wind said the design stage of the transmission line is in advanced stages after more than a year of work.
“It was not contemplated that the poles would host any additional infrastructure other than what is required for the Project,” according to the letter.” Moreover, the real estate rights which have been acquired for the construction and operation of the transmission line system are specific to the installation of infrastructure required for the transmission of electricity generated by the Project. Ultimately, we do not have the rights required to permit the installation of any infrastructure that is not related to the Project. Additionally, the Project is the subject of a comprehensive and complex permitting and regulatory regime which applies specifically to the generation and transmission of electrical energy. Any third party use of the transmission line may trigger additional requirements under the permitting regime which could result in the introduction of additional risk factors for the Project and possibly unacceptable delay.”
McWalter said the Smart Community Network is disappointed but optimistic about the future.
“That would have been a great opportunity for us to bring fibre capacity into the area and would have provided the opportunity to provide ultra-high speed broadband to a great number of people, including First Nations between here and Henvey.”
The group plans to forge ahead bringing high speed internet the region.
“The only thing holding us up now is there doesn’t seem to be any government grants or funding available in support of the broadband project, but we are continuing to pursue that and pursue other avenues of financial opportunities.”
At Seguin’s June 6 meeting, councillor and Smart Community member Jack Hepworth spoke of the need for upper levels of government to, as he said, show leadership on expanding internet capabilities.
“The way you do that,” he said at the council meeting. “Is by making some recommendations in terms of infrastructure requirements,” said Hepworth.
“When infrastructure is installed it would be appropriate to accommodate any necessary additions to the infrastructure to accommodate broadband.”
Seeing the denial as a lost opportunity, McWalter sent a letter to the both the Parry Sound-Muskoka member of Parliament and member of Provincial Parliament, plus the CRTC, and Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. She notes that in the fall of 2015, when the idea of adding fibre optic cable to the transmission route was first discussed, “the network design was just getting underway.” McWalter calls for representatives and agencies “to press for policy changes and a strategy that would ensure sound fiscally responsible use of tax dollars and bring fibre to northern regions.”
Henvey Inlet Wind is a corporation formed by Henvey Inlet First Nation’s company Nigig Power Corporation and Pattern Renewable Holdings Canada.
Henvey Inlet First Nation was awarded a 20-year contract under Ontario’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program in February 2011 and entered into a 50/50 partnership with Pattern in 2015. The FIT contract begins once energy starts entering the grid. The province will pay 13.5 cents, plus an aboriginal adder of between 0.75 to 1.5 cents, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
A call to a spokesperson for the Henvey Inlet Wind project wasn’t returned.