Ontario Announces $1 Billion Electricity Transmission Expansion to Support Windsor-Essex Battery Plant and Greenhouses

The Ontario government is investing in and accelerating five hydro transmission infrastructure projects for the southwest region that are intended to power the automotive and agricultural industries in the Windsor-Essex region.

Stephen Crawford, Parliamentary Assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Energy, was joined by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald and officials from automaker Stellantis and battery maker LG Energy Solutions for the announcement in Windsor on Monday.

It comes nearly two weeks after the companies unveiled their plans for a $4.9 billion lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing plant slated to open in Windsor by 2024.

Ontario is set to spend $1 billion on projects between Windsor, London and Sarnia, which will be completed in phases over the next eight years.

“Today we take the next big step in the process, a step that I know many in this town and across Essex County have been waiting for,” Crawford said.

“These projects will fuel the Stellantis-LGES battery plant, the growing manufacturing sector here in Windsor and the burgeoning agribusiness industry in Leamington and throughout Essex County as well as the many job creators to come. .

The five transmission line projects are:

  • The Chatham to Lakeshore Line, a 230 kilovolt line between Chatham Switching Station and the new Lakeshore Transformer Station currently under construction.
  • The St. Clair line, a 230 kilovolt line between the Lambton transformer station, south of Sarnia, and the Chatham switching station.
  • The Longwood to Lakeshore Line, a 500 kilovolt line between Longwood Transformer Station, West London, and the new Lakeshore Transformer Station.
  • A second line of 500 kilovolts from Longwood Transformer Station to Lakeshore Transformer Station.
  • And a 230 kilovolt line that would run from the Windsor area to the Lakeshore Transformer station.

Crawford said the province is looking to fast-track the projects by issuing an order declaring three of the lines — Chatham to Lakeshore, St. Clair Line and Longwood to Lakeshore — priorities. The government said this priority designation requires the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) “to accept that the initial three lines are necessary to assess whether the projects are in the public interest,” which would shorten the timeline of the review process.

“The start of these projects will now allow Hydro One to implement them quickly as long as we continue to work together and accelerate the current rate of economic growth,” said Crawford.

Crawford said all projects must always meet the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act and be carried out in consultation with indigenous and local communities.

A high-voltage power line planned to connect Chatham to Lakeshore is of concern to many residents in the southwestern Ontario region. This line, which is part of Monday’s announcement, was previously assigned to Hydro One in 2020. (Colin Perkel/Canadian Press)

Hydro One said the work should be viewed as a long-term project, developed and built over time to ensure electricity needs are met over the long term.

Demand is high

In 2020, Hydro One was named as the transmitter for the Chatham-Lakeshore line, a project that upset and frustrated some in the power line.

But officials from Ontario’s independent power system operator have identified that the power company would need to quadruple supply to Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent to meet the electricity demand expected from expanding operations. tight.

In April 2021, the Independent Power System Operator (IESO) recommended that a proposed transmission line be constructed between Lambton and Chatham to keep up with greenhouse operations.

This recommendation came ahead of the announcement of an electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor – a plant expected to be the size of 112 NHL hockey rinks.

“From the Municipality of Leamington, it’s obvious there’s a need for more hydro, more electricity,” MacDonald said Monday.

“The industry has grown exponentially over the past five years, even beyond our expectations.”

Although MacDonald acknowledged there could be issues with building the lines, she said the power supply is important to keep the agricultural industry working to produce food.

“We’re going to have so much more demand.”

Although the Lakeshore line has already been pushed back, Dilkens said the power supply will be needed to support the upcoming 2,500 new jobs at the EV battery factory.

“What I’ve heard…from a Hydro One perspective is that the commitment there to continue to do the consultation, to continue to work with the people who are in Comber, who are at Lakeshore who have concerns to see if there is a way to alleviate those concerns in a reasonable way that still allows the project to proceed at a reasonable time.”

Hydro One said one of the transmission lines could be operational by 2024, with the rest of the projects to be completed by 2030.