Power is now flowing from a massive Manitoba Hydro project, as the Wuskwatim Generating Station officially comes to life.
On Thursday morning, Premier Greg Selinger and other officials flew to northern Manitoba to mark the launch of operations at the Burntwood River site. The $1.37-billion project has been six years in the making, and will send 200 megawatts of energy into the Manitoba grid.
The first of Wuskwatim’s three huge turbines started turning on June 22.
The dam was developed by the Wuskwatim Power Ltd. Partnership, which is a joint venture between the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and Manitoba Hydro.
The station was built on traditional Cree land about 45 kilometres southwest of Thompson, and the community has the option of claiming up to 33 per cent ownership of the project.
The First Nation must decide by July 2013 how much it will claim, though Chief Jerry Primrose has already confirmed it will take a "significant" ownership position. Manitoba Hydro is also working with Nisichawayasihk to train and hire local workers.
"This is an exciting time for our community," Primrose said on Thursday. "For the first time, our people will benefit in a more meaningful way from hydro development, rather than just through compensation after the fact."