Ontario has begun the process of building a new C$600 million transmission line to carry electricity out of a region with some of the province's best wind energy resources. Hydro One, the government owned transmission company serving the area, says it will ask Ontario's energy regulator to approve plans to construct a 180 kilometre, double-circuit 500 kV line from the Bruce region on Lake Huron. The project is the largest expansion to the province's transmission system in 20 years and will boost transfer capacity by 60% to 3000 MW. About half of that has been earmarked for Bruce Power, which is expected to bring two nuclear generators into service as early as 2009 as part of a C$4.25 billion reactor restart program. Although there are currently no transmission constraints coming out of the Bruce region, the new nuclear units, combined with another 725 MW of already contracted large scale wind generation also being built in the region, will exceed the transfer capacity of the existing line. The situation has led the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to declared the area off-limits to new generation, a decision that was a blow to developers planning hundreds of megawatts of new wind projects under the province's standard offer program. Not surprisingly, the Canadian Wind Energy Association is happy to see the proposed grid expansion moving ahead. "New transmission capacity in this area is essential if Ontario is to capture its potential for clean and renewable energy development," says president Robert Hornung. The OPA estimates there is another 1000 MW of future renewable energy potential in the region. The new line is expected to be in service by December 2011, says Hydro One, although some stakeholders are questioning whether it can be finished in such a tight timeframe.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol