One of the most difficult aspects of sustaining infrastructure for communities is ensuring sufficient power. How do we manage it, how do we add to the infrastructure, where is it coming from?
Ottawa –with a growing population of well over 900,000 people and a peak demand of about 1,800 MW is one of the largest electricity planning regions in Ontario. This sub-region, a term used by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), has a diverse mix of electricity customers including government, commercial, institutional, light industry, and residential consumers.
Within the Ottawa sub-region and for the last 10 or more years, Barrhaven and South Nepean have consistently been the focus of tremendous growth and development. Keeping up with infrastructure demands has been a significant job. However, the demand from new builds has pushed the power demand past the ability of our substations to provide enough, leading to Barrhaven and South Nepean drawing surplus power from the City as a whole.
This is not a long-term solution. Effectively it is like running extension cords from your neighbour’s house to power street lights in front of your home. It does the job, but it is definitely not the best way to go about it! More and more areas of the City no longer have surplus energy to provide to Barrhaven and South Nepean. With this growth, and with no new infrastructure, energy needs will not be able to keep up with demand.
In Ontario, planning to meet the electrical supply and reliability needs of a large area or region is done through regional electricity planning, a process that was formalized by the Ontario Energy Board in 2013. In keeping with this process the IESO has begun the planning to add a High Voltage line to address the needs in our community. With the current build out and all forecasted development, our community will begin experiencing power shortages in the next 5 years.
IESO is arguing that in order to head off this problem, they need to start the process of approvals now. In fact, the IESO will forgo initial consultations that would examine alternative solutions, because there are none that would provide consistent and sufficient power, and save consultations for working out potential corridors. Hydro Ottawa will now determine where any new station might be built and Hydro One will consider where a new transmission line will go. Both processes will be subject to significant public consultation as well as important environmental and regulatory approvals that will evaluate different options for station locations and transmission line routes.
The 230-kilovolt high-voltage transmission line will serve the City’s south end. Some of the line will use existing corridors for the transmission lines, some parts will be in new areas. After the approvals process is initiated, the Environmental Assessment phase will be where residents will start examining potential corridors to determine the best fit.
This is something that I will be keeping a very close eye on as the project continues to take shape, and I encourage everyone to think on and participate in the process if they can. Up to date information can be found on the IESO website at http://www.ieso.ca/Pages/Ontario’s-Power-System/Regional-Planning/Greater-Ottawa/default.aspx