Hydro One Networks Inc. (Hydro One) has announced that the Chatham to Lakeshore Transmission Line will be finished by the end of 2024, a full year ahead of schedule. This early completion is expected to reduce the project's cost by approximately $15 million, making it a more cost-effective venture. The estimated $253 million investment aims to enhance the reliability and resilience of the electricity network in the Windsor-Essex region, adding approximately 400 megawatts of clean electricity, equivalent to powering a city the size of Windsor.
Key factors contributing to the accelerated progress include:
1. Indigenous Partnerships: As part of Hydro One's commitment to Reconciliation, the company has fostered new partnerships with Indigenous communities. Under the First Nations Equity Model, five local First Nations will have the opportunity to invest in a 50 percent equity ownership stake in the transmission line component of the project.
2. Community Engagement: Early and meaningful engagement with the community allowed Hydro One to integrate local needs into the project planning. Route refinements were made to address community concerns, and voluntary land rights agreements with affected property owners were achieved promptly.
3. Provincial and Municipal Collaboration: The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) identified a quadrupling energy demand in southwest Ontario by 2035. The Minister of Energy amended Hydro One's transmission license in 2019 and 2022 to develop five new transmission lines, allowing the company to advance relationships with regulators, local communities, and businesses. This consolidated approach expedited regional development and allowed Hydro One to mitigate potential supply chain constraints through advanced procurement activities.
Andrew Spencer, Executive Vice President of Capital Portfolio Delivery, Hydro One, expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts and partnerships that facilitated efficient project delivery. "We remain focused on bringing tangible benefits through this line to the community, including more jobs, economic growth, and reliable power," he added.
Invest WindsorEssex's President and CEO, Stephen MacKenzie, emphasized the importance of reliable power for economic development in the region. "We're pleased to see the progress Hydro One has made on this priority transmission project that will create new opportunities and attract investments in southwestern Ontario."
Construction commenced in spring 2023 on the 49-kilometre, 230-kilovolt line between Chatham Switching Station and the new Lakeshore Transformer Station. This project is part of a broader network of infrastructure projects across southwest Ontario, unlocking the electrification potential of Ontario's economy. The line is now expected to be in service by December 2024.
Matt Weingarden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Tilbury Times Reporter, Tilbury Times Reporter