Ontario 2017 LTEP: IESO demand outlook indicates no need for major transmission system expansion beyond current projects

The Ontario Ministry of Energy on Oct. 26 released the 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), which noted that the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator’s (IESO) demand outlook indicates that there will be no need for any major expansion of the province’s transmission system beyond the projects already planned or under development.

The government will direct the IESO to establish a formal process for planning the future of the integrated province-wide bulk system, which includes the high voltage system that typically carries 230- and 500 kilovolts in Ontario, the LTEP noted.

According to the LTEP, major transmission projects under development across Ontario include the:

  • Northwest Bulk Transmission Line, which is needed to support growth and maintain a reliable electricity supply to areas west of Atikokan and north of Dryden. The project will proceed in phases, with Phase One involving a line from Thunder Bay to Atikokan that should come into service as soon as practical, and by 2024; Phase Two involving a line from Atikokan to Dryden that should come into service by 2034 unless the IESO’s outlook on the demand forecast suggests and earlier date; and Phase Three involving a line from Dryden to the Manitoba border that could be needed after 2035 – or earlier if recommended by the IESO – to enable the better integration of provincial electricity grids
  • East-West Tie Transmission Line, which would provide a long-term, reliable supply of electricity to meet the growth in demand and changes to the supply mix in northwest Ontario. As the project has moved through development, estimates on its total cost have increased, the LTEP said, adding that the government will review all options to protect ratepayers as the project continues to be developed
  • Greater Toronto Area (GTA) West Bulk Reinforcement. Discussing the project, the LTEP noted that growth in demand, the eventual retirement of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, and new renewable generation all impact the bulk transmission system in the western section of the Greater Toronto Area. The IESO is studying the need for, and timing of, reinforcements to the region’s transmission system. Transmission solutions being investigated include building new transmission lines along the existing Parkway Belt West transmission corridor – between the Milton switching station to the Hurontario switching station – and expanding station facilities at the existing Milton switching station
  • Hawthorne to Merivale project, which is being developed by Hydro One, and is expected to be in service in 2020. The LTEP noted that the 230-kV circuits between the Hawthorne and Merivale transformer stations require upgrades to their capability to serve growth in western Ottawa and optimize the use of its interties with Québec
  • ITC Lake Erie Connector LLC’s proposed 1,000-MW high voltage direct current transmission cable under Lake Erie, running from Nanticoke, Ontario, to Erie County, Pa. The two-way line would provide the first direct link between the markets of IESO and PJM Interconnection. As TransmissionHub reported, Fortis’ (NYSE:FTS) ITC Holdings on Oct. 24 said that its wholly owned subsidiary ITC Lake Erie Connector LLC has received notice that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued the necessary permits for the line
  • Clarington Transformer Station, which Hydro One is building in the Municipality of Clarington in order to meet the needs of the growing eastern GTA and prepare for the eventual retirement of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. Hydro One expects to bring the station into service in 2018

In its Oct. 26 statement, the Ministry noted that the LTEP is a roadmap that sets out the direction for Ontario’s energy future, and that the last LTEP was issued in 2013.

Thousands of people from across the province were engaged in the development of the 2017 LTEP, the Ministry said, adding that the consultation and engagement process, which occurred from October 2016 to January, included 17 stakeholder sessions, 17 public open houses, and 17 meetings with representatives from nearly 100 indigenous communities and organizations.

As noted in the LTEP, 25 remote First Nation communities in the province’s northwest rely on diesel fuel to power their communities. The province recognizes the distinct challenges that they face and because of the high cost of diesel fuel, there is a good economic case to connect as many as 21 of those communities to Ontario’s electricity grid, the LTEP said. The government has taken several steps to begin the connection of remote First Nation communities, including selecting Wataynikaneyap Power as the transmitter for connecting most of the remote First Nations, the LTEP said.

The province also supports the connection of the five remote Matawa communities that are not currently part of the Wataynikaneyap Power project, the LTEP said, adding that further steps will be taken to advance their connection when proposals are brought forward.

According to the statement, initiatives in the 2017 LTEP include:

  • Maximizing the use of Ontario’s existing energy assets, only securing new power when needed
  • Transforming Ontario’s wholesale electricity markets through market renewal, which is intended to more flexibly and efficiently meet system needs and government policy goals
  • Allowing utilities to intelligently and cost-effectively integrate electric vehicles into their grids, including smart charging in homes

The Ministry further noted that nearly $70bn has been invested in the electricity system since 2003, including closing all coal-fired generating stations. Last year, the Ministry said, Ontario’s electricity system was 90% free of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.