Supporting critical transmission infrastructure in Southwestern Ontario

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

This consultation was open from:
January 20, 2022
to March 7, 2022

Decision summary

The Ministry of Energy has decided to move forward with the proposal. Lieutenant Governor in Council has approved the Orders in Council (OICs) and Minister’s Directive pursuant to the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEBA). The OICs and Directive will facilitate the timely development of five new transmission lines in Southwestern Ontario.

Decision details

Following the consideration of comments received in response to the proposal, the Government of Ontario has decided to proceed with the proposal to issue an Order in Council (OIC) and a Minister’s Directive under section 28.6.1 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEBA) and a separate but related OIC under section 96.1 of the OEBA. Taken together, the OICs and Directive will have the effect of:

  1. Declaring three transmission line projects as priority projects under s. 96.1 (1) of the OEBA, streamlining the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)'s Leave to Construct approvals process.
  2. Designating Hydro One as the transmitter of two of the priority projects through a requirement under the Minister’s Directive to the OEB to amend Hydro One Networks Inc. (HONI)’s transmission licence pursuant to s. 28.6.1 of the OEBA, requiring HONI to undertake development work and seek approvals to construct the projects. (HONI was designated as the transmitter for the third priority transmission line project – Chatham to Lakeshore – in 2020).
  3. Requiring Hydro One undertake early development work on two future projects through a requirement under the Minister’s Directive to the OEB to amend HONI’s transmission licence pursuant to OEBA s. 28.6.1, to impose a similar obligation on HONI as described in the paragraph above. Planning assessments indicate that two additional transmission lines (i.e., apart from the priority transmission line projects) may be required over the longer-term in Southwestern Ontario.

Comments received

Through the registry

8

By email

9

By mail

0
View comments submitted through the registry

Effects of consultation

The ministry received a total of seventeen written comments as part of this registry posting. Further feedback was received through meetings with potentially impacted Indigenous communities.

The ministry received supportive feedback from a range of stakeholders. These submissions highlighted the importance of streamlining approval processes and starting development work earlier on potential future transmission projects. Many of these comments noted how these actions would support economic development in Southwestern Ontario. 

Some comments received through the registry, as well as feedback received in meetings with Indigenous communities, included concerns over the designation of HONI as the transmitter without a competitive procurement process. While a competitive selection process has its merits, creating and running such a process could add up to two years to the development of these projects and cause them to not be completed when they are needed. Designating a transmitter ensures that there is sufficient time for the comprehensive consultations and environmental planning that is necessary for the success of the projects. HONI is best positioned to undertake this work due to the fact that they currently operate significant assets in the region and have already started development work on two of the projects to meet the needs of its customers (the Chatham to Lakeshore Line and the St. Clair Line). For these reasons, the proposal was not adjusted with respect to a competitive process.

Comments also highlighted the need for input from municipalities and other local stakeholders to be considered as the projects move through the development process. This included the need for municipal input on the projects including through community benefit agreements, the involvement of local distributors to ensure cost impacts to distribution ratepayers are considered, and for agricultural stakeholders and landowners to be engaged appropriately to protect agricultural land.

During the ERO posting period, the ministry also received feedback via meetings and submissions from five of the Indigenous communities potentially impacted by this proposal. In addition to concerns about the designation of HONI noted above, comments and concerns raised included the following topics in relation to the proposal: potential impacts on Aboriginal and treaty rights; cumulative effects (including health, environmental concerns, and enabling further development in the region); concerns or interests related to capacity funding for consultation and considering partnerships; and expectations for economic opportunities and benefits of transmission developments (including equity); and communities’ experiences working with HONI.

These comments are helpful in informing the critical issues that must be addressed by HONI as the transmission projects are developed. To this end, as part of the decision to proceed with the proposed OICs and Directive, the Minister of Energy has issued a letter to HONI setting out expectations for HONI to work closely with affected Indigenous communities, municipalities, and stakeholders as it moves forward to develop these projects. Input received is expected to be thoughtfully considered as HONI determines the appropriate routing for these projects and ways in which the projects can both minimize impacts and provide benefits.

The ministry has also communicated its expectations of HONI with respect to fulfilling any delegated Indigenous consultation responsibilities and providing meaningful opportunities for economic participation by Indigenous communities and has requested that HONI consider prioritizing Indigenous partnerships for these transmission lines. The ministry will work closely with HONI and potentially impacted Indigenous communities to help ensure these expectations are met as projects move forward. The ministry will also consider feedback received from Indigenous communities on their capacity needs and ensure adequate funding support is available for communities wishing to consider partnership opportunities with HONI.

Supporting materials

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Ministry of Energy
Address

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

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Original proposal

ERO number
019-4926
Notice type
Policy
Act
Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998
Posted by
Ministry of Energy
Proposal posted

Comment period

January 20, 2022 - March 7, 2022 (46 days)

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).

    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 17, 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.
    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

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Ministry of Energy
Address

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

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from January 20, 2022
to March 7, 2022

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