Under section 96.1 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, the Lieutenant Governor in Council (Cabinet) can make an order declaring that a new, expanded or reinforced transmission line is needed as a priority project. Even if a transmission line is declared by Cabinet to be a priority project, OEB approval to build the line is still required. However, in these cases the OEB must accept that the project is needed.
The following transmission lines have been identified as priority projects pursuant to section 96.1 of the Act:
In the 2013 Long-Term Energy Plan, the provincial government identified that connecting remote northwestern First Nation communities is a priority for Ontario. The government also confirmed that a new line to Pickle Lake would, among other things, provide increased capacity to connect remote communities north of Pickle Lake and, for that reason, that line continues to be a key priority for Ontario.
In a letter dated July 29, 2016 (pdf), the Minister of Energy informed the OEB that the Lieutenant Governor in Council had made an order declaring that the construction of electricity transmission lines to Pickle Lake and extending north from Red Lake and Pickle Lake required to connect 16 named remote First Nation communities (Remote Communities) to the provincial electricity grid are needed as priority projects. Power in these communities is currently provided by local diesel generation.
Under cover of a letter dated July 29, 2016 (pdf), the Minister of Energy transmitted to the OEB a Directive to amend the electricity transmission licence issued to Wataynikaneyap Power LP to include a requirement that it proceed to do the following:
- Develop and seek approvals for a transmission line, composed of a new 230 kV line originating at a point between Ignace and Dryden and terminating in Pickle Lake. The development of the line must be in accordance with the scope recommended by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).
- Develop and seek approvals for the transmission lines extending north from Red Lake and Pickle Lake required to connect the Remote Communities to the provincial electricity grid. The development of these lines must be in accordance with the scope supported by the IESO.
The Directive also calls on the OEB to require that Wataynikaneyap Power LP provide such reporting to the OEB on budget, timing, and risks in relation to the development of the transmission lines as the OEB may consider appropriate.
In light of the Directive, the OEB requested a report from the IESO that details both its recommended scope for the line to Pickle Lake and the IESO-supported scope for the transmission lines north of Pickle Lake and Red Lake. This report was received by the OEB on October 13, 2016. At page 12 of its Decision and Order on Wataynikaneyap Power LP’s application for a deferral account issued March 23, 2017, the OEB prescribed reporting which it considers appropriate with respect to budget, timing, and risks in relation to the development of the transmission lines.
- Letter from the Minister of Energy and Order in Council declaring the new transmission lines to Pickle Lake and extending north from Red Lake and Pickle Lake to be needed as priority projects (pdf) (Jul 29, 2016)
- Letter from the Minister of Energy and Directive to the OEB to amend Wataynikaneyap Power LP’s transmission licence (pdf) (Jul 29, 2016)
- OEB letter to the IESO (pdf) (Sep 1, 2016)
- Decision and Order amending Wataynikaneyap Power LP’s electricity transmission licence (pdf) (Sep 1, 2016)
- IESO response to OEB’s September 1, 2016 letter (pdf) (Sep 9, 2016)
- IESO Report - Recommended Scope for the new Line to Pickle Lake and Supported Scope for the Remotes Connection Project (Oct 13, 2016)
- Decision and Order - Wataynikaneyap Power LP’s application for an accounting order to establish a deferral account (Mar 23, 2017)
In March 2011, the Minister of Energy asked the OEB to create a process for selecting the most qualified and cost-effective transmission company to develop the East-West Tie transmission line that connects Northeast and Northwest Ontario.
The Minister of Energy advised the OEB that the Lieutenant Governor in Council made an order effective March 4, 2016 (pdf) declaring that the construction of the East-West Tie transmission line is needed as a priority project.