Onimiki is a mini hydroelectric project that would generate significant economic benefits. It is a quality community project that is supported by the First Nations communities of Kebaowek, Wolf Lake and Pekuakamiulnuatsh as well as by the MRC of Témiscamingue.
The Onimiki project would include two mini-hydro plants and would represent an investment of approximately $200 million. Its construction is expected to last 2 years and would create more jobs in the region during construction. A significant proportion of these benefits would be accrued to local communities. The mini-hydro plants would have a capacity of 42 MW, with the first plant (Ominiki 1) having a capacity of 37 MW and located on the Ottawa River. The second plant (Ominiki 2) with a capacity of 5 MW would be built at the outlet of Tee Lake.
The development for hydroelectric purposes of the sector would benefit from several assets, notably
- The presence of existing structures in the Gordon Creek area, known for its favourable conditions for hydroelectric development;
- The current management of the Kipawa reservoir makes it possible to sustain the available flow from December to March and thus the energy production, without modifying the water level management plan. This feature makes this project a rare case where renewable energy production can be guaranteed during the winter peak demand of the Hydro-Quebec network;
- The proposed facilities are accessible from existing roads;
- The proposed power plants are located near the Hydro-Quebec network, facilitating direct connection to the network.
The project is under development and the proponent plans to file a project notice (avis de projet) with the Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques in July 2022. As part of the preparation of this study, the partners are committed to launching a voluntary and structured consultation process aimed at informing the local communities and, above all, considering the concerns raised in the studies and the final definition of the project.
In the upcoming months, development alternatives will be submitted to Hydro-Québec in response to a call for proposals issued in February 2022. Hydro-Québec expects to award the contracts by the end of 2022. In addition, the Government of Quebec also indicated in May 2022 that another call for tenders will be issued in 2023 and, like the one currently underway, the project selection process will favour those that can guarantee power and operating flexibility from December to March.
An historic partnership
The local communities have agreed to jointly develop the project on a 100% community basis. To do so, the communities of Wolf Lake and Kebaowek and the MRC of Témiscamingue have also decided to work with the community of Pekuakamiulnuatsh located in the Lac Saint-Jean region, which has already successfully developed and operated various community-based renewable energy projects in Lac Saint-Jean and the Mauricie region.
This partnership between the communities marks an important milestone in the development of the region. It was agreed that the partnership would take the form of a limited partnership, a vehicle that by its essence implies that the governance of the limited partnership is independent of that of the limited partners. Over the years, Pekuakamiulnuatsh has grouped the expertise in the development and management of community renewable energy projects into a non-profit organization (NPO) that is 100% owned by Pekuakamiulnuatsh (Pek Development Inc.).
The partnership and the limited partnership are divided as follows
- Wolf Lake 20 %
- Kebaowek 20 %
- Témiscamingue RCM 40%.
- Pekuakamiulnuatsh 20%.
The limited partners will soon appoint two people each to represent their organization and form the board of directors of the limited partnership, which will act as the project manager for both the development phase and the operation of the facilities. The latter will be supported by the NPO – Pek Development Inc., for the administrative aspects and contractual management. The limited partnership will respect the rules applicable to municipal organizations in awarding its contracts.
The First Nations communities of Kebaowek, Wolf Lake, Pekuakamiulnuatsh as well as the MRC of Temiscamingue are partners in this community project. The objective that brings them together is to develop a real growth-generating project that will benefit the First Nations as well as all the citizens of the MRC of Temiscamingue.