Capital Power looks to boost generating capacity in Windsor to address rising demand

Capital Power CEO Brian Vaasjo, centre, speaks at a press conference outside the East Windsor Cogeneration Centre on Sept. 21, 2022. He was joined by Windsor city Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac, left, Mayor Drew Dilkens, second from left, Coun. Ed Sleiman, and Jelena Payne, the city's commissioner of economic development and innovation. (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC - image credit)

With big projects and more demand for electricity on the horizon in Windsor, Capital Power says it's looking at expanding capacity at its power-generation site in Ford City.

Capital Power CEO Brian Vaasjo said the East Windsor Cogeneration Centre is "ideally situated" to help address expanding energy needs.

"We are confident that we have viable options for adding significant capacity at this plant, all within the existing one-and-a-half acre site," he said at a press conference outside the facility on Wednesday.

He made the announcement alongside Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, city councillors Jo-Anne Gignac and Ed Sleiman and Jelena Payne, the city's commissioner of economic development and innovation.

Submitted by Capital Power
Submitted by Capital Power

Under the proposal, capacity would be added through a battery energy storage system that could accommodate up to 40 megawatts, enough to power around 40,000 homes. The company is also assessing whether it can expand capacity within the plant.

Vaasjo said those aren't the only options, the company would be sharing proposals with the public and the Independent Electricity System Operator, which manages electricity in Ontario, to determine the best option.

The target is for the decisions to be made and contracts signed by February. Capital Power expects to have additional capacity online by May 2025 or sooner, said Vaasjo.

High demand in Windsor region

The announcement comes amid concern over the region's energy capacity following the announcement of the $4.9-billion Stellantis-LG Energy Solution electric vehicle battery plant, a massive facility slated to open in 2024.

But that isn't the only source of new demand.

The IESO has said demand in southwestern Ontario as a whole is expected to double over five years to about 2,000 megawatts.

Earlier this year, several energy transmission projects in this region were designated priorities by the provincial government, which would accelerate the approval process.

Dilkens said that those projects would bring in electricity generated from elsewhere, but building local generation capacity is a "critical part" of securing energy reliability for the city.

"We're a growing city, and want to make sure we keep growing and have the resources and energy and, of course, the power to make sure that we can continue region's growth," he said.

Report urges council to seek power sources

The city has hired a consultant to explore solutions for possible supply constraints down the road.

Energy consulting firm Power Advisory drafted a 68-page report recommending city council ask Ontario to investigate the idea of importing power from Michigan.

Adding to the need for more power, there are some aging power generation facilities in Ontario that need to be refurbished and others have private contracts that are expiring, the report outlines.

Sarah Simmons, director of utilities and innovation of Power Advisory, said that the biggest take-away from the report is a willingness from Windsor city council to engage in developers who may be interested building electricity capacity.