It begins with people

Innergex has made social acceptability the cornerstone of its development strategy and in the process has built solid long-term relations with local communities and First Nations across Canada.

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Voir la légende
Inauguration ceremony at Umbata Falls run-of-river hydroelectric facility in Ontario.

 

In December 2012, Innergex and the Lil’wat Nation signed a Participation Agreement for the Upper Lillooet hydroelectric project under development in British Columbia. This agreement includes a revenue-sharing arrangement, procurement and employment opportunities, and ongoing environmental compliance monitoring. It also includes a provision for the Lil’wat Nation to ensure that the project’s design reflects its cultural values. “It will provide opportunities for employment, contracting and economic development in our Nation for the next generation” says Chief Lucinda Phillips of the Lil’wat Nation. “[Innergex has] invested a considerable amount of time in understanding and managing the environmental and archaeological impacts in our traditional territory. We look forward to working with them on this and other projects into the future.” A similar agreement with the Lil’wat Nation is expected to be signed for the company’s Boulder Creek hydroelectric project, also under development.

This is the latest of several successful partnerships Innergex has developed over the years, with such partners as the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation in Ontario, the Kanaka Bar Indian Band and the Douglas First Nation in British Columbia, the Mi’gmaq Nation of Québec, and the Wolf Lake First Nation and the Eagle Village First Nation, also in Québec.

In fact, Innergex has a long history of building solid relations with local communities. By listening to them, by consciously choosing to create projects that reflect their aspirations, and by harmonizing the company’s own objectives with those of the communities, it has chosen to begin with people.

Julie Boudreau, Director – Public Affairs, who has first-hand experience in engaging with local communities and First Nations, explains: “We have always approached development by adapting to the unique circumstances of each community we make contact with. And we have also respected the natural sequence in which social acceptability occurs – first, of the individuals representing the company, then of the company itself, and finally of the company’s projects.”

Social acceptability remains the cornerstone of Innergex’s development strategy. It has proven an incredible lever of growth over the years, because time and time again it has enabled the company to build successful projects. Even more so, it has created projects that are better, because they are in keeping with a sustainable development perspective.


“We believe every community is unique – in its history, its culture, and its aspirations, and we always try to adapt to every community we make contact with. Relations between organizations are based on creating lasting bonds of trust between their people. Building these relationships is very rewarding for everyone involved.”

Richard Blanchet, Senior Vice President – Western Region


Whether in the form of shared economic benefits, employment opportunities, shared ownership, or partnership agreements, Innergex has recognized the growing willingness for communities to become agents of their own socio-economic development. A trend it expects will continue to grow right across Canada.

Partnerships based on solid long-term relations

Harrison facilities

Cloudworks Energy Inc., which Innergex acquired in the spring of 2011, had developed, in its own right, solid relations with several First Nations. Naturally, these First Nations partners chose to take time to understand what this change of ownership would mean for them. They came to recognize in the people of Innergex the same kind of people they had been dealing with previously, who shared the same values of collaboration and First Nations participation in the company’s hydroelectric projects. This eventually led to the signing of a new partnership agreement with the Douglas First Nation for the Northwest Stave, Tretheway Creek, and Big Silver Creek projects currently under development.

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“A century and a half ago, Port Douglas was the center of commerce in what was to become British Columbia. Until recently, the people in the Lillooet Valley were a forgotten people. That has changed after the hydro projects came. Many people got jobs. We are now connected to the electricity grid, and have refocused our efforts to important matters like improving our roads, getting phone and Internet services, developing our communities, building a sustainable economy, and bringing our people back home.”

Chief Don Harris of the Douglas First Nation

 

Viger-Denonville

The Viger-Denonville project is a 25 MW wind farm being developed by Innergex in a 50-50 joint venture with the Rivière-du-Loup Regional County Municipality (RCM) – in fact, the company’s first joint venture with a municipality. This wind farm is expected to reach commissioning at the end of 2013, but the seeds for it were planted as far back as 2006, when municipal officials visited the company’s Baie-des-Sables wind farm, under construction at the time. Contacts were made and, over the years, relationships developed. In 2009, when the provincial government issued a Community Wind Request for Proposals, Innergex and the Rivière-du-Loup RCM formed a partnership and then worked closely together in contacting land owners, structuring a project that was mutually beneficial, and communicating with the local population throughout the process.

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“We first chose Innergex because we believed they were a first-rate partner, one that shared our values. Our experience in working with them on a daily basis confirms it.”

Mr. Michel Lagacé, Warden of the Rivière-du-Loup RCM

Umbata Falls

The Umbata Falls 23 MW run-of-river hydroelectric facility in Ontario was developed by Innergex in a 49-51 joint venture with the Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation. It began commercial operations in November 2008. For the Pic River First Nation, it was very important that the two operators for the facility be hired from within the community – and that’s exactly what happened.

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“With Innergex, we have found a partner who respects its commitments; what it promises, what it says it will do, it does. We look forward to continue working together to develop renewable energy projects for our community.”

Chief Roy Michano of the Objiways of the Pic River First Nation

 

Kwoiek Creek

The Kwoiek Creek project is a 50 MW run-of-river hydroelectric facility being developed by Innergex in a 50-50 joint venture with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band. Construction began in 2011 and commercial operations are expected to begin at the end of 2013. For the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, it was very important that this project bring local job creation. Innergex and its suppliers, contractors, and service providers heeded the call; currently, more than 40% of workers at the site are Aboriginal, twice the average for similar construction projects in British Columbia. In fact, in 2012 the Kanaka Bar Indian Band received the Clean Energy Award for Community of the Year from Clean Energy BC, in recognition of the various clean energy initiatives the band has promoted since the 1980s, including the Kwoiek Creek project.

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“While many other projects may have First Nations involvement, I don’t think any of them can match us in our one-half Aboriginal ownership and the true partnership we have with Innergex.”

Chief James Frank of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band

 

Chaudière

The idea for the refurbishment of the 24 MW Chaudière run-of-river hydroelectric facility emerged during a period of vocal public opposition to small private hydroelectric facilities. Innergex chose to approach the local communities that would be directly concerned by the project. What they wanted most was to preserve the beautiful falls, so the project was structured around aesthetic flow requirements, especially during the summer months when tourism is at its peak. The company also solicited the communities’ input in choosing the facility’s architectural design, and committed to the revitalization and annual maintenance of the surrounding public nature park, creating a major tourist attraction for the region. In the end, the local communities’ firm determination that this project be realized certainly influenced the authorities in giving it a green light.

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