NextBridge Infrastructure on Jan. 31 said that the Government of Ontario has issued an Order in Council (OIC) and ministerial directive that provides the exclusive right of NextBridge to proceed to build the East-West Tie Transmission Line Project.
Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford, in a separate Jan. 31 statement, said, in part: "Ontario’s Government working for the people has taken decisive action to designate NextBridge as the transmitter to build a 450-kilometer, double-circuit transmission line from Thunder Bay to Wawa, known as the East-West Tie Line Project, to ensure the availability of reliable electricity across northern Ontario. Maintaining reliability and cost efficiency is a top priority for our government. The East-West Tie Line has long been identified as a priority project to provide a consistent supply of electricity that supports economic growth, job creation, and resource development in northwestern Ontario.”
Rickford also said: "NextBridge is the right choice to quickly and efficiently complete the East-West Tie Line. NextBridge has finished the preliminary work necessary to complete the project, it has the support of local communities and First Nation and Métis partners, and the project sets in motion opportunities to create local employment for over 200 Indigenous people.”
In its statement, NextBridge said, in part, “The timely resolution of this process is good news for families and businesses in Northern Ontario as the project can now move forward to ensure the availability of electricity in the region that will support a new era of economic growth.”
Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins said in that statement: “As President of Bamkushwada, I welcome the government’s decision to confirm that NextBridge will construct the East‐West Tie Project. This is more than an electricity transmission project. It’s an economic partnership between industry and our First Nation communities that builds capacity and provides employment opportunities for over 300 Indigenous people.”
NextBridge Project Director Jennifer Tidmarsh said in the statement: “NextBridge is ready to get to work. We have worked in collaboration with Indigenous and local communities and right‐of‐way landowners for the past five years to develop this important project that will deliver economic benefits for generations to come.”
Among other things, NextBridge said that it will support Bamkushwada’s acquisition of a 20% equity stake in the project at the end of the construction period. NextBridge said that its project team expects to reach out to project partners, communities and landowners in the coming weeks as it acquires its final permits and initiates pre‐construction activities.
As noted in the statement, NextBridge is a partnership between affiliates of NextEra Energy Canada, Enbridge Inc., and OMERS Infrastructure established to participate in the Ontario transmission market. The partnership submitted a proposal to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for the planning, development, construction, ownership, operation, and maintenance of the project in northern Ontario, the statement noted.
According to NextBridge’s website, the project will consist of the installation of a double-circuit, 230-kV transmission line connecting the Wawa Transformer Station (TS) to the Lakehead TS near Thunder Bay, with a connection about mid-way at the Marathon TS. The preferred route primarily parallels the existing double-circuit, 230-kV transmission corridor (the existing East-West Tie), the site noted, adding that the project avoids some sensitive features crossed by the existing line, including the Pukaskwa National Park. While the proposed right of way for the project is expected to be typically up to 210 ft. wide, additional space may be required for conductor stringing and tensioning, water body crossings, angles in the route, areas where long spans are required, and/or locations with poor soil conditions that dictate the use of longer anchors, the site noted.
The OEB in August 2013 designated NextBridge to develop the project and to file a Leave to Construct (LTC) application, which was submitted to the OEB in July 2017. The site added that the OEB in October 2017 issued the Notice of Application and Letter of Direction for the proceeding. The OEB combined the proceeding with an application from Hydro One Networks for station works associated with interconnecting the East-West Tie Line project. The site added that the Hydro One station work application is separate from the Lake Superior Link LTC application that Hydro One submitted in February 2018.
Hydro One, in a separate Jan. 31 statement said that the Ontario minister’s directive to the OEB effectively ends Hydro One’s competitive bid to build the Lake Superior Link project, which is a new, 400-kilometer transmission line between the Lakehead Transformer Station in the Municipality of Shuniah east of Thunder Bay and the Wawa Transformer Station.
Hydro One COO Greg Kiraly said in the statement: "We are very disappointed with this outcome. We would like to thank the stakeholders, community members and Indigenous partners who welcomed us through our consultations over the past year. Hydro One has been powering Ontario for more than 100 years and, through the recently announced Northwest Transmission Line, Hydro One will continue to engage communities in meaningful consultation that delivers tangible benefits, including employment and business opportunities."