ITC Lake Erie Connector LLC: Canada’s National Energy Board approves issuance of certificate for proposed line

ITC Lake Erie Connector LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of ITC Holdings, on June 28 said that Canada’s Governor in Council has approved the issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity – which Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) issued on June 26 – for the ITC Lake Erie Connector transmission line.

The NEB provided its initial recommendation of the certificate to Canada’s Governor in Council in January, the company added, noting that the issuance of the certificate completes the project’s major permit application process in Canada.

The ITC Lake Erie Connector is a proposed 1,000-MW, bi-directional, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) underwater transmission line that would, according to the company, provide the first direct link between the markets of the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and PJM Interconnection.

The proposed +/-320-kV line, which would be about 73 miles long, would connect converter stations located in Erie, Pa., and Nanticoke, Ontario, the company said. A 345-kV alternating current (AC) line would connect the Erie converter station to Penelec’s existing Erie West substation, while a 500-kV AC line would tie the Nanticoke converter station to Hydro One’s Nanticoke substation, the company said, adding that most of the line would be buried beneath Lake Erie or underground, using existing roadway rights of way.

According to the certificate, which is posted on the project’s webpage, “[T]he board has determined, taking into account ITC Lake Erie’s mitigative measures and those set out in the conditions to this certificate, that the proposed ITC Lake Erie Connector international power line is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects.”

The board, the certificate said, has found that the line is, and will be, required by the present and future public convenience and necessity.

The certificate noted that it is subject to 42 conditions, including that ITC Lake Erie is to not sell, convey, lease, or otherwise transfer the power line to any person, in whole or party, without leave of the board. The conditions also include that ITC Lake Erie is to, for instance, file with the board for approval, at least 90 days prior to the start of construction, a “Quality Assurance and Compliance Program,” which is to describe the methods by which the company is to ensure that the project is designed, built, and operated in conformity with the conditions of the certificate, designs, specifications, and undertakings set forth in its application or as otherwise adduced in its evidence before the board.

The conditions also include that ITC Lake Erie is to file with the board for approval, at least 90 days before the start of construction, a drawing showing the “horizontal directional drilling” (HDD) drill path, entry and exit points, the anticipated drill angles at the entry and exit points, the no drill zone, and the soil stratigraphy along the HDD trajectory based on the available borehole information.

Among other things, the certificate noted that the conditions also include that ITC Lake Erie is to file with the board, at least 60 days before the start of construction, confirmation that all necessary U.S. federal and state permits, as well as regulatory approvals regarding electrical standards and installation practices have been received for the U.S. portion of the project.

The company said in its June 28 statement that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on May 25 issued two required permits for the project – a Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit, as well as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for Stormwater Associated with Construction Activities. That completes the project’s major permit process in Pennsylvania, the company said.

According to the Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit, for instance, the company is given consent to:

  • Bury HVDC electric and communication lines within the bed of Lake Erie beginning at the shoreline about two miles west of the mouth of Elk Creek in Springfield Township, Erie County, and extending north and east about 35.4 miles to the U.S.-Canada border within Lake Erie. The line will be directionally bored under the bluff and shoreline of Lake Erie from a bore pit located north of SR 5 about 560 feet south of the lake bluff in Springfield Township, and emerging about 1,340 feet offshore in Lake Erie. The crossing of Lake Erie results in a total permanent impact of 5.62 acres, and a total temporary impact of 9.29 acres of lake bed during construction
  • Bury HVDC electric and communications lines across a total of 15 streams, including Crooked Creek, tributaries to Crooked Creek, and tributaries to Lake Erie, and across a total of 11 wetlands, beginning at the proposed converter station along Lexington Road in Conneaut Township, Erie County, and proceeding north through Conneaut, Girard, and Springfield townships in Erie County, about seven miles to the bore pit south of the lake bluff in Springfield Township. The wetland crossings result in a total permanent impact of 1.02 acre of wetland, and a total temporary impact of 0.31 acre of wetland
  • Bury alternating current electric cables across a total of three wetlands beginning at the converter station and extending about 2,000 feet west to the existing Penelec Erie West substation in Conneaut Township. The wetland crossings result in a total permanent impact of 0.10 acre of wetland, and a total temporary impact of 0.11 acre of wetland

Among other things, the permit noted that if the work authorized by the permit is not completed on or before Dec. 31, 2021, the permit, if not previously revoked or specifically extended by the department in writing, is to become void without further notification.

The company noted in its statement that ITC has received a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy, which is necessary for international border-crossing projects, and that major remaining project milestones include receiving approval form the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, completing project cost refinements, and securing favorable transmission service agreements with prospective counterparties, after which ITC would proceed with construction.

The company said that ITC has completed the necessary system impact studies in IESO and PJM, signed service agreements with the manufacturers of the converter stations and the submarine cable, and secured nearly all land necessary for the terrestrial cable route, converter stations, and construction laydown areas.

ITC is a Fortis (NYSE:FTS) company.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3236 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.