The Six Nations Economic Development Corporation says it’s changing its business development approach after being blindsided by the cancellation of the massive Lake Erie Connector Project earlier this month.
“We did spend a lot of time on this,” said SNGRDC President Matt Jamieson. “There was a lot of work done. It’s unfortunate.”
The project, which proponents boasted could have brought as much as $45 million in revenue to the community, was cancelled due to volatile economic conditions, including inflation.
ITC Holdings had no choice but to pull the project, said Jamieson, adding there was nothing the council, community or the SNGRDC could have done to prevent the project’s cancellation.
Jamieson reassured elected council at a general meeting last week that all costs researching the project to date have been fully covered by a capacity funding agreement paid for by ITC Holdings.
“We’re not out of pocket,” he said. “It’s a bit of a sad story. It is what it is.”
Council accepted Jamieson’s recommendation to rescind the project agreement from its July 13 meeting.
Jamieson said if the project comes back to life in the future, it will likely come back with potentially a different owner.
Council would have to start a new dialogue with a new company over again, he said.
“To pull the plug at the eleventh hour is certainly disheartening,” said Elected Chief Mark Hill.
Jamieson said the corporation is working on other energy partnership opportunities.
“We do have a pipeline of opportunities that are emerging right now,” he said, such as the Oneida Energy Storage Project, and other potential projects they’ll source through the IESO (Independent Electricity Systems Operator), which is currently sending out requests for proposals for new projects.
“There will be emerging opportunities for new energy projects – more wind, more solar, battery storage,” which, Jamieson says, are all good projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We don’t know where they will be sited geographically. We’re in a feeling out stage with a number of our partners.”
Jamieson also announced that the SNGRDC has hired a new vice-president of business development.
“Traditionally we were bombarded by companies who needed us more than we needed them,” said Jamieson. “Our strategy moving forward is to pivot that a little bit and start to place ourselves in the market and qualify opportunities based on what our values are. (As opposed to us responding to people who need us).”
“The development corporation will be a little more scientific in how we tackle opportunities,” he said. “I’m excited about what the future holds.”
Jamieson predicted that current market conditions – punctuated by astronomically high inflation rates – will be here for the next 18 months.
“The interest rates aren’t going anywhere,” he added.