Proposal to identify and protect a corridor of land for future electricity infrastructure in the Greater Toronto Area

ERO number
019-1503
Notice type
Policy
Posted by
Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
March 23, 2020 - June 8, 2020 (77 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:

March 23, 2020
to June 8, 2020

Proposal summary

We want to identify and preserve a corridor of land in the Northwest Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for future electricity transmission infrastructure so we can support growth in Halton, Peel and York regions.

We are seeking feedback on a proposed narrowed study area, as well as input on the guiding principles we will consider in conducting the study.

Proposal details

Halton, Peel and York are among the fastest growing regions in Ontario. As these regions continue to develop, new transmission infrastructure is anticipated to be required to meet the growing electricity demand over the long-term future.

We’ve identified a long-term need for electricity transmission infrastructure, but the technical scope of the transmission infrastructure required, and the timing of its need, may not be certain for many years.

Given the fast growth occurring in these regions, and the sensitive environmental features in the area, it is important to keep a viable transmission infrastructure option open by identifying a viable corridor today.

In June 2019, the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) and the Province’s electricity system planner, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) initiated the Northwest GTA Transmission Corridor Identification Study (hereafter “the study”) to identify an appropriate corridor of land for use by future linear transmission infrastructure, if and when the need arises.

Early identification and protection of infrastructure corridors has many benefits for growing communities:

  • It supports well-planned communities by ensuring electricity transmission infrastructure can be built to support growth.
  • It minimizes impacts to the environment by preserving environmentally viable routes for infrastructure.  In the absence of a preserved corridor, development may push electrical infrastructure into ecologically sensitive areas that could otherwise have been avoided.
  • It preserves economically-viable routes. In the absence of a preserved corridor transmission would cost significantly more to build because of the need to take indirect routes or to be undergrounded through built up areas. A reserved corridor could lower infrastructure development costs, leading to savings for local electricity ratepayers.
  • It provides certainty to municipal planners, landowners and developers as they plan for growth.

We are seeking feedback on a proposed study area, as well as input on the guiding principles we will consider in conducting the study.

While the study is underway, the study area is subject to protection under policies in A Place to Grow: Growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Provincial Policy Statement, 2020 (in effect on May 1, 2020).

The outcome of the study will be a recommendation on land to be preserved for future transmission infrastructure and protected from development for other purposes.

Any future electricity transmission development in the area would be subject to Environmental Assessment Act requirements and other applicable regulatory approvals, including through the Ontario Energy Board.

Electricity infrastructure needs

The IESO, Ontario’s electricity planner, has identified a long-term need for new transmission capacity to serve growth in the north western GTA.

Transformer stations serving northern Brampton, southern Caledon, and Halton Hills face unique geographic challenges in supplying new customer growth which is increasingly far removed from existing transmission supply circuits. This means that once existing capacity has been fully utilized, there are few feasible options for serving new customer demand. Due to the distance between the existing transmission system and areas of anticipated growth, alternatives to new transmission infrastructure are not considered viable.

The timing of the need for transmission infrastructure and the exact nature of the infrastructure required will depend on the timing and location of development in Halton, Peel and York regions.

The electricity needs of these regions will continue to be studied and refined over the coming years, with updated electricity plans anticipated at least every 5 years.

Given the long-term nature of the needs, the fast growth occurring in the Halton, Peel and York regions, and the sensitive environmental features in the area, it is important to keep a viable transmission infrastructure option by identifying a viable corridor today.

The study area

Provincial policy supports the co-location of linear infrastructure which has the potential to mitigate the impact on surrounding agricultural land and environmentally sensitive areas.

Planning underway by the Ministry of Transportation related to the Greater Toronto Area West Transportation Corridor offers an opportunity to consider co-location. That’s why the starting point for the study, announced in June 2019, was the Ministry of Transportation’s 2015 Focused Analysis Area (“2015 FAA”).

MTO’s 2015 FAA encompassed two of the three future transformer station connection points.  The study area was expanded relative to the MTO FAA corridor to enable connection to a third connection point, existing electrical infrastructure which is located in the Parkway Belt West Planning Area south of the Highway 407/Highway 401 interchange.

At this time, we are proposing a narrowed area of interest. The narrowed area largely corresponds to MTO’s narrowed 2019 Focused Area Analysis (“2019 FAA”) for the GTA West Highway Environmental Assessment with some differences.

  • Retaining two areas that are important to accommodate transmission infrastructure connection points.
  • Removing areas that are relevant only to transportation infrastructure.

A map comparing the current study area and proposed narrowed area of interest are included in the supporting material below. A map comparing the narrowed area of interest with MTO's 2019 FAA is also included below.  The study area and proposed narrowed area of interest data layers are also available for download on Ontario’s Open Data Catalogue.

Guiding principles for corridor identification

Provincial legislation, policies and technical planning documents have informed the guiding principles outlined below to support the identification of a corridor. Balance among the principles will be required in implementing the study.

1. Co-locate with other linear infrastructure

  • Corridor routing should maximize the use of existing linear infrastructure corridors wherever feasible (e.g. GTA West Transportation Corridor, 400 series highways, other infrastructure corridors).

2. Plan for the most cost-effective outcome

  • Corridor routing should protect least cost routing where feasible. This could include identifying the shortest geographic route and reducing crossings of other infrastructure such as highways, railways, pipelines and other transmission lines.

3. Minimize impacts to natural heritage, agricultural and hydrological features consistent with provincial policies

  • Minimize corridor impacts on natural heritage system, agricultural lands and hydrologic features consistent with provincial policies and plans (e.g. A Place to Grow, Greenbelt Plan, 2020).

4. Minimize impacts on built up areas

  • Corridor routing should minimize impacts on existing municipal plans in the study area, including impacts on existing built up areas, cultural heritage, planned developments and airports.

5. Provide flexibility for the future

  • Corridor routing should take a long-term view and should not preclude reasonably anticipated future infrastructure requirements.
  • Corridor routing should not preclude specific technology types, which will be determined by a future transmitter (i.e. overhead lattice, overhead monopole, underground).
  • Corridor routing should allow for connections to existing electrical infrastructure.
  • Corridor routing should preserve sufficient flexibility for future environmental study.

Study timeline

Given the opportunity to co-locate a transmission corridor with the Ministry of Transportation’s proposed GTA West Transportation Corridor, we are proposing to align the timing of our study with milestones related to the Ministry of Transportation’s Environmental Assessment. This Environmental Assessment is separate study and more information can be found at gta-west.com.

Protecting the identified corridor

The outcome of the study will be a recommendation on land to be preserved for future transmission infrastructure and protected from development for other purposes.

ENDM anticipates developing and considering options to protect the relevant corridor lands after the study is complete.

Questions

  • Are you aware of potential barriers or issues that may be associated with the proposed narrowed area of interest?
  • Are there other principles we should consider in conducting the study?

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from March 23, 2020
to June 8, 2020

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