Possible energy boost for C-K

Four new energy projects – including three battery energy storage complexes - may be coming to Chatham-Kent.

At a recent meeting, council voted to support the projects in principle, allowing the proposals to move forward in the RFP process with the municipality's blessing.

But council's nod is merely the first step in the approval process, with the final decision coming from Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Further public consultation also needs to take place.

The proposed projects include a Wheat Energy Storage LP’s proposed battery energy storage complex at 13613 Spence Line in Ward 3 (15 acres); a Chatham battery energy storage system project by Boralex Inc. on Concession 1, east of Communication Road in Ward 2 (23 acres); and a third battery energy storage facility by Kruger Energy and Innergex located at 4683 Finn Line in Ward 3 (14 acres).

A fourth project would see the expansion of the Cedarline Greenhouses Cogeneration Unit at the greenhouse complex at 11080 Base Line near Kent Bridge in Ward 4. The footprint of the project is less than one acre.

Bruce McAllistar, general manager of community development for C-K, said council's acceptance of the administrative report is a preliminary step, noting "there's no guarantee" the lithium-ion battery energy storage complexes and co-gen plant will be approved for construction in Chatham-Kent, as competition for such projects is stiff across Ontario.

However, the IESO has identified there is a growing need for power in the area west of London, especially between Windsor and Chatham. According to the IESO, a power shortage is anticipated in the region as early as 2025, with the IESO identifying the area west of Chatham as a preferred development area for new capacity.

The new battery energy storage facilities are located close to Hydro One's existing transmission systems. McCallister said excess energy created by way of wind turbines can be stored in the batteries and fed back into the grid when needed.

The battery storage containers resemble shipping containers, with racks of batteries housed within.

The mayor and clerk are now authorized to enter into community support agreements with each of the companies and create a special reserve fund.

The new projects will provide a financial boost to the municipality by funding a special community reserve fund, but final details won't be ironed out until official approval is granted.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice