New hydroelectric transmission power line infrastructure proposed for new Stellantis-LG electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor is currently being reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board, but the town of Lakeshore is concerned about the destination of this infrastructure.
The 4.5 million square foot Stellantis-LG EV battery factory will employ 2,500 people and is expected to create an investment windfall for the region.
But it is also causing a crisis in energy demand, and Hydro One is working on a plan to supply the region with a large amount of hydroelectricity.
After years of assessments and community consultations, Hydro One has a preferred solution, a new transmission line from Chatham to Lakeshore that roughly follows the route of Highway 401.
“We know we need power, we need power in Leamington to power the greenhouses and the growth we’ve seen on the agricultural side, and we absolutely need power on the battery factory side. for electric vehicles,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
The proposed route of these power lines will run directly through the village of Comber and residents are appealing to the town to reroute the route.
“We’re trying to be as adamant as we can that it makes a lot more sense to go this alternative route, but we also need this hydroelectric power,” says Lakeshroe Mayor Tom Bain, who says ‘there are a handful of small businesses, homes and a planned subdivision in the way.
Dilkens argues that pursuing an alternate route could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the multibillion-dollar transmission project — and possibly lead to delays that could jeopardize the investment if things don’t move quickly.
Route of the proposed power line. (Source: Hydro One)
“The electricity has to be there when this factory opens and it has to go through certain corridors, it’s just a reality,” says Dilkens. “I understand there’s some opposition to this, but we don’t have time to wait to bring this power line and power the buildings we’re building here.”
Hydro One typically goes to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) and asks for permission to build the transmission lines, which requires the transmission provider and independent power system operator to file evidence with from the OEB to demonstrate that there is sufficient demand to justify bringing power to the region, a process that could take up to a year.
Recognizing the tight schedule for the battery plant project, the city pressured the province’s Minister of Energy, Todd Smith, to deem the need urgent and used his power to issue an executive order, waiving the need for a regulatory hearing and speeding up obtaining shovels. ground.
Minister Smith responded to CTV on Wednesday, saying the province was consulting on ways to ensure the timely development of critical transmission infrastructure in southwestern Ontario.
“Our government has received feedback on this work through our consultation which concluded earlier this month, including the unanimous support of Windsor City Council,” the statement said. “We continue to review community feedback and look forward to providing future updates.”
“It’s not just a Windsor-centric thing, it benefits residents of Leamington and Lakeshore and Tecumseh and everywhere in between,” Dilkens says.
Hydro One also released a statement on Wednesday, saying it is working collaboratively with communities to build a grid for the future.
“We heard from customers, communities and business leaders in the South West region about the need to continue to expand the power system to meet growing demand. Through public consultation, the Ontario government has proposed regulations that would see the timely development and construction of critical electricity transmission infrastructure in the region,” said the Hydro One spokesperson. , Tiziana Baccega Rosa, in a statement.
“We look forward to receiving a decision on the public consultation. In all of our work, we are committed to engaging with Indigenous communities and residents to ensure that feedback is heard and considered as we plan to deliver our projects,” she says.
In the meantime, Dilkens remains concerned that the region will have enough electricity supply to power the growing region by the time the battery plant is commissioned in 2024.
“We also realize that we can’t lose this battery plant to a lack of hydroelectricity,” Bain said. “We will continue to represent our people and bring their concerns to the table and work towards that compromise.”