Meeting Northwestern Ontario's Energy Needs
Northwestern Ontario is a vast region that is rich in minerals and ripe in opportunities for the mining sector. Meeting the energy demands in Northwestern Ontario to accommodate proposed mining activity in the region remains an energy planning priority.
Energy priorities in the region include:
- The New East-West Tie
- Identified in 2010 as a priority project line between Wawa and Thunder Bay, the tie line will reduce transmission constraints and allow a greater two-way flow of electricity across northern Ontario.
- Efforts are currently focused in the areas of engineering and seeking necessary approvals, including an environmental assessment.
- The project is expected to be finished in 2018, and will create hundreds of jobs in the service and construction industries.
- Northwest Bulk Transmission Line
- As part of a package of longer-term solutions for the area, the Ontario government will ask Hydro One to begin planning a new Northwest Bulk transmission line west of Thunder Bay.
- The new line would increase transmission capacity and provide a means for new customers and growing loads to be served with clean and renewable sources.
- Connecting Remote First Nation Communities
- There are 25 First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario that are not connected to the province's electricity grid.
- Working with the federal government on the connection of remote First Nation communities to the grid is a priority.
- These communities rely on expensive diesel fuel to generate their electricity.
- Ontario will explore on-site alternatives for the few remaining communities when there may be more cost-effective solutions to diesel fuel, in an effort to reduce its use.
In addition to the planned advances in transmission in Northwestern Ontario, important additions are being made to generation in the region. These include the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass, and the recently announced plans to convert Thunder Bay Generating Station to advanced biomass. The government intends to convert one unit at the Thunder Bay Generating Station to run on advanced biomass over a 5 year term, starting in 2015, preserving operational capacity for the future. Ontario is also maintaining the option to convert the second coal-fired unit to run on advanced biomass in the future. In addition to providing additional generation in the region, these projects are an important part of ending coal fired generation in Ontario.
Ontario is committed to working with First Nation and Métis communities, local municipalities and businesses to ensure adequate supply across the region.