Importing power from Mich. among the ideas examined to boost Windsor's electricity supply

·2 min read
The Sir Adam Beck hydro generating stations in Niagara Falls produce about nine per cent of Ontario's electricity needs.  (Ontario Power Generation - image credit)
The Sir Adam Beck hydro generating stations in Niagara Falls produce about nine per cent of Ontario's electricity needs. (Ontario Power Generation - image credit)

Importing power from Michigan, supporting five proposed transmission projects west of London and advocating that Windsor be home to future energy projects are just three of the recommendations in a new city report about Windsor's future electricity supply.

But the author of that report says it's a call to action, not sounding an alarm.

As Windsor preps for a huge surge in electricity usage due to incoming investments and electrification, 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 heading to council in a few weeks recommending city council ask Ontario to investigate power import 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.

"There is a call to action, but I wouldn't say there is a need for alarm bells," said Sarah Simmons, director of utilities and innovation of Power Advisory, an energy consultant.

The biggest take-away from the report, she said, is a willingness from Windsor city council to engage in developers who may be interested building electricity capacity.

"There will be new electricity supply needed in the region, so let's make sure we're all working together making sure that these facilities are appropriately sited within communities and move forward to ensure we do have all resources to connect all customers as required," said Simmons.

IESO
IESO

One of those major players is the $4.9-billion electric vehicle battery plant, which is set to be operation in 2024. South Korean battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution and European automaker Stellantis made the announcement earlier this year, alongside all three levels of government.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is tasked with managing Ontario's power needs and planning for the future. In April, the provincial government announced a $1-billion investment for five electricity transmission projects west of London:

  • A 230-kilovolt line from Chatham to a new station in Lakeshore, currently under construction.

  • A 230-kilovolt line from south of Sarnia to Chatham.

  • A 500-kilovolt line west of London to a new Lakeshore transformer station.

  • A second 500-kilovolt line from two transformer stations in Lakeshore.

  • A 230-kilovolt line from Windsor to Lakeshore.

What's needed is a mixture of more transmission lines to get energy to Windsor, but also more power being generated in Ontario, Simmons said.

Given all of the challenges ahead and power that will be needed to support new investments, Simmons said she isn't worried about brownouts, also know as partial power outages.

"I'd be concerned if these things weren't being planned, but right now these are initiatives that are underway," said Simmons.