Hydro One wants your input on new transmission line path from Strathroy to Lakeshore

Hydro transmission towers are seen in a file photo.  (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Hydro transmission towers are seen in a file photo. (Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Hydro One wants community input to help it choose between three possible transmission line routes that will deliver more power to southwestern Ontario by 2030.

At the end of March and beginning of April, the company will host five open house events for Indigenous community members, politicians, property owners, businesses and residents. Hydro One says the sessions will provide people with updates on the project and allow them to offer feedback, which will be used to select a route.

The route will hold two new transmission lines that will extend from Hydro One's Longwood transformer station in Strathroy-Caradoc to its Lakeshore transformer station.

"The [Independent Electricity System Operator] has identified that ... the need for power in the region will actually quadruple over the course of the next 10 years," said Sonny Karunakaran, Hydro One's vice-president of strategic projects and partnerships.

"The entirety of the projects within the region [are] what's deemed necessary and required to meet the actual ability to bring clean, reliable energy for the expansion of power needs for industry in the area."

Two of the proposed routes are more southerly and run along Highway 401, while the northerly route runs largely above the Thames River and Chatham on the map.

These are the three proposed transmission line routes from Hydro One.
These are the three proposed transmission line routes from Hydro One.

These are the three proposed transmission line routes from Hydro One. (Hydro One)

According to Karunakaran, when it comes to selecting a route, Hydro One will take into consideration socioeconomic factors, the natural environment, technical and cost factors, as well as Indigenous values.

He says development work will take place over the next two to three years, and will be followed by another two to three years of construction.

By 2030, Hydro One says it anticipates that the first line will be in service and deliver an extra 550 megawatts of power to the area.

In a news release, the company said that is "enough electricity to energize life in a city the size of London, Ont."

Multiple new transmission lines headed to region 

The Longwood to Lakeshore project is just one of a few new lines being added to southwestern Ontario to meet growing energy demands. The province had said it was investing in the fast-tracking of five transmission projects in 2022.

One of those five lines, the one between Chatham and Lakeshore, is expected to be done construction by the end of this year.

The addition of this line had created controversy among some people in Comber, as well as former Lakeshore mayor Tom Bain.

Bain and others told CBC News in 2021 that they were frustrated and concerned that the line's route would prevent future opportunities in the area.

The path of the the line goes above a commercial plaza in Comber, just south of Highway 401.

When asked whether Hydro One learned anything from this situation that it will apply to this new line, Karunakaran says they are always "listening and looking for feedback from the public." He added that they are confident they can address any concerns people bring to their attention.

Another project that Hydro One is preparing to start constructing is the St. Clair Line, which will go from its Chatham station to its Lambton one.

Hydro One plans to have a route selected for the Longwood to Lakeshore project by early next year.

Four open houses will take place in-person:

  • Tuesday, March 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at St. Andrew's United Church, 85 William Street South, Chatham.

  • Wednesday, March 27 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Comber Community Centre, 6211 McAllaster Street, Comber.

  • Wednesday, April 3 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Brunner Community Centre, 32 Wallace Street, Thamesville.

  • Thursday, April 4, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Glencoe Agricultural Hall, 268 Currie Street, Glencoe.

There will also be one open house on April 24, which people must register for online.