Haldimand wants more talk on power line project

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

A map of the proposed route of the ITC Lake Erie Connector Project - a $1 billion underwater electricity line that links Ontario to 13 U.S. states.  (Contributed/ITC Lake Erie Connector Project)

A map of the proposed route of the ITC Lake Erie Connector Project - a $1 billion underwater electricity line that links Ontario to 13 U.S. states. (Contributed/ITC Lake Erie Connector Project)


Haldimand councillors want the company undertaking a project to run a high voltage electric transmission line through the county and under Lake Erie to hold more discussions about its plans.

Mayor Ken Hewitt made clear to presenters of the ITC Lake Erie Connector Project at council’s Tuesday meeting that more talk is needed with the community that stands to be most directly affected.

Hewitt took advantage of a comment by presenter Patrick Duffy of Stikeman Elliott LLP, that they are involved in lengthy consultations with Six Nations.

“What discussions you are having with Six Nations we want and expect you to have with Haldimand,” the mayor said.

“I’m just putting that bug in your ear.”

Hewitt said he has seen discussions with Six Nations and other stakeholders in the past.

“It hasn’t been entirely favourable. Sometimes it’s been good, sometimes not. We want to have these discussions as well,” he said.

“We don’t want to hold you up, but we want to make sure these discussions take place.”

At stake is a road use agreement that project proponents want to enter into with Haldimand to make use of the county’s right of way. Councillors had two motions in front of them: that a report on the overall connector project be received; and that the mayor and clerk be authorized to execute the road use agreement.

It was the first time the project in its overall form was before Haldimand council. Councillors had a lot of questions as Duffy took them through the highlights of the project and its approval path.

ITC wants to build a high voltage bi-directional electric transmission line starting at a convertor station located on Haldimand Road 55, south of Rainham Road, and extending across Lake Erie to Erie County, Pennsylvania.

The road use agreement is required between ITC and county to permit the construction and operation of the project infrastructure in the county’s right of way.

ITC wants to build, own and operate a 144-kilometre long international power line called the Lake Erie Connector that will transfer electricity between Canada and the U.S. Once constructed, the project will be incorporated into the Ontario electricity grid and the PJM Interconnection LLC electricity grid in the U.S.

About 47 kilometres of the line would run in Haldimand.

The Connector is made up of a 1,000-megawatt, 320-kilovolt high-voltage direct current, bi-directional electric transmission line. The project infrastructure requires high voltage direct current converter stations on either side of the lake, land-based buried cables accessing the converter stations and underwater cables buried in the lakebed.

Duffy told council the company anticipates that in the short term the line will shift power to the U.S. because there is a surplus in Ontario. There will be an opportunity, however, for electricity to flow in the other direction in the longer term depending on energy market conditions and demand.

The company expects the Lake Erie Connector to be in service by 2020 or 2021.

ITC has received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the National Energy Board, has done the environmental assessment and acquired most of the necessary approvals for the project. The federal cabinet approved the project in June.

Duffy said he anticipates the routing process will be completed in the fall and the company expects to finish the approval process by the end of the year, with construction expected to start in mid-2018.

“The impact of the project is quite minimal because it’s a narrow corridor,” he said.

The agreement is for 20 years with a second 20-year renewable term.

The county will reap property taxes from the project and rental fees will go to the provincial government.

Hewitt said he doesn’t see how the project is of much use right now in Haldimand and Ontario.

“We’re producing electricity at a premium and selling at a discount,” he said.

“I don’t see any advantage at this point.”

Duffy suggested that in the longer term there is an opportunity for the Ontario government to tap into the new power source, rather than increasing nuclear power production.

The project will be up for discussion again at Monday’s council meeting.