Importing electricity from Michigan among ideas discussed to boost Windsor’s power supply

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Importing electricity from Michigan, backing five proposed transmission projects in West London and advocating for Windsor to be home to future energy projects are just three of the recommendations in a new city report on future electricity supply of Windsor.

But the author of this report says it’s a call to action, not an alarm.

As Windsor prepares for a huge increase in electricity consumption due to inbound investment and electrification, the city has hired a consultant to explore solutions to possible future supply constraints.

The energy consulting firm Power Advisory has written a 68-page report will be heading to council in a few weeks to recommend that city council ask Ontario to investigate Michigan’s electricity import. In addition to the need for more electricity, some aging power generation facilities in Ontario need to be refurbished and others have private contracts expiring, the report notes.

“There’s a call to action, but I wouldn’t say there’s a need to ring the alarm bells,” said Sarah Simmons, director of utilities and innovation at Power Advisory, a consultant in energy.

The biggest takeaway from the report, she said, is Windsor City Council’s willingness to engage with developers who may be interested in building power capacity.

“There will be new electricity supply needed in the area, so let’s make sure we all work together to make sure these facilities are properly located in the communities and move forward to make sure we have all the resources to connect all customers as needed,” Simmons says.

Energy Outlook for Windsor-Essex. (IESO)

One such major player is the $4.9 billion electric vehicle battery factory, which is expected to be operational in 2024. South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution and European automaker Stellantis have made the announced earlier this year, alongside all three levels of government.

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for managing Ontario’s electricity needs and planning for the future. In April, the provincial government announced a $1 billion investment for five power transmission projects west of London:

  • A 230 kilovolt line from Chatham to a new station at Lakeshore, now under construction.
  • A 230 kilovolt line from South Sarnia to Chatham.
  • A 500 kilovolt line west of London to a new Lakeshore transformer station.
  • A second line of 500 kilovolts from two transformer stations at Lakeshore.
  • A 230 kilovolt line from Windsor to Lakeshore.

What’s needed is a mix of more transmission lines to get power to Windsor, but also more power generated in Ontario, Simmons said.

Given all the challenges ahead and the power that will be needed to support new investments, Simmons said she isn’t worried about brownouts, also known as blackouts.

“I would be concerned if these things weren’t planned, but right now these are initiatives that are ongoing,” Simmons said.

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