ERO number
019-4926
Notice type
Policy
Act
Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
Posted by
Ministry of Energy
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
January 20, 2022 - March 7, 2022 (46 days) Open
Last updated

This consultation closes at 11:59 p.m. on:
March 7, 2022

Proposal summary

We are proposing actions that would facilitate the timely development of key electricity transmission projects in Southwestern Ontario to ensure critical infrastructure is built on time to support Ontario’s economic recovery.

Proposal details

The Ministry of Energy (ministry) is proposing to take a number of actions to facilitate the timely development of transmission projects in Southwestern Ontario. The proposed actions are intended to:

  • Support planned transmission projects to be built on time and cost-effectively to aid Ontario’s economic recovery and meet the rapid pace of development in the region, making Ontario more competitive in attracting and retaining investment.
  • Expand the use of Ontario’s low-carbon electricity system.

Our proposed actions are best described in three parts:

1. Prioritize certain Transmission Projects

In 2019, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) published their Windsor-Essex Bulk Study and subsequently in September 2021 published their West of London Bulk Study. Taking into consideration input from Indigenous communities and rights-holders, and municipalities and stakeholders, both reports forecast rapid electricity demand growth in Southwestern Ontario, largely driven by the expanding agricultural greenhouse industry. To meet this growing demand, the IESO recommended the following three transmission lines be built:

  1. The Chatham to Lakeshore Line – a 230-kilovolt transmission line that will run 48 kilometers from Chatham Switching Station (in Chatham) to the new Lakeshore Transformer Station currently under construction (located in the municipality of Lakeshore);
  2. The St. Clair Line – a 230-kilovolt transmission line that will run approximately 60 kilometers from Lambton Transformer Station (south of Sarnia) to Chatham Switching Station (in Chatham); and
  3. The Longwood to Lakeshore Line – a 500-kilovolt transmission line that will run approximately 120 kilometers from Longwood Transformer Station (west of London) to Lakeshore Transformer Station (in the municipality of Lakeshore).

The ministry is considering declaring that these three projects are needed as priority projects under s. 96.1 (1) of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEBA). Per s. 96.1 (2) of the OEBA, this declaration would require the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the provincial economic regulator of the energy sector, to accept that the lines are needed when assessing whether the projects are in the public interest as part of their Leave to Construct review processes. This would expedite the OEB’s review process so projects can be brought online earlier. The OEB would still be required to consider the interests of electricity consumers with respect to project costs and the reliability and quality of electricity service.

Declaring these transmission lines as priority projects will not impact the requirement for the transmitter to obtain all required government approvals, including under the Environmental Assessment Act and obtaining Leave to Construct. These approvals include requirements for the transmitter to consult with Indigenous communities, the public, and stakeholders on the proposed projects.

2. Designate Hydro One as Transmitter of Priority Projects

In order to prevent delays to project development, the ministry is proposing to direct the OEB pursuant to s. 28.6.1 of the OEBA to amend Hydro One Networks Inc. (Hydro One)’s transmission licence, to require it to undertake development work and seek all necessary approvals to construct projects b) and c) referenced above. This action would have the effect of designating Hydro One as the transmitter for these projects. Lack of clarity around which transmitter will develop a project can lead to delays in the approvals process, which adds to development timelines and increases costs that are ultimately borne by electricity ratepayers. This action would provide regulatory clarity for the OEB to mitigate against such an event.

Designating Hydro One is being suggested because they are the local transmitter in the region and therefore are best positioned to promptly undertake development work for these projects. This action builds on the government’s previous decision to require Hydro One to undertake development work on project a), the Chatham to Lakeshore Line, through an Order in Council and Minister’s directive to the OEB dated December 17th, 2020.    

3. Require Hydro One to undertake early development work on future projects

The ministry is also proposing to direct the OEB to amend Hydro One’s transmission licence, per OEBA s. 28.6.1, to require it to undertake early development work on future transmission projects that planning assessments indicate may potentially be required in Southwest Ontario over the longer term. These projects include:

  1. A second 500-kilovolt transmission line from Longwood Transformer Station to Lakeshore Transformer Station; and
  2. A 230-kilovolt line that would run from Windsor to Lakeshore Transformer Station (in the municipality of Lakeshore). 

Conducting early development work on these lines concurrently with projects b) and c) referred to above is expected to result in cost and time savings and help achieve more meaningful and transparent consultations with Indigenous communities and stakeholders.

Furthermore, the ministry may consider bringing forward proposals to prioritize the future transmission projects d) and e) noted above at some later date, if for instance, the IESO were to determine in subsequent planning assessments that these transmission lines are needed to support additional electricity demand growth in Southwestern Ontario.

Supporting materials

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Ministry of Energy
Address

77 Grenville Street, 6th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 2C1
Canada