One of Ontario’s most promising areas for wind power development is the Bruce Peninsula. However, renewable energy development on the peninsula has been severely constrained by Ontario’s contractual commitment to devote most of the existing transmission capacity to the Bruce nuclear plant. The resulting “Orange Zone” will only be released when the new Bruce to Milton transmission line is completed, adjacent to the existing line. The new line is expected to transmit approximately 3000 MW of additional electricity from wind and nuclear sources.
I was a lawyer in the Ministry of Energy in the 1970s, the last time the province tried to build this transmission line. Public opposition, including adept use of the then new Environmental Assessment Act, killed the project. This time, Hydro One is moving steadily, if slowly, through the regulatory obstacles. The Ontario Energy Board approved the line in 2008. The Environmental Assessment was approved in 2009. Expropriation approvals for almost all the required property were issued in March 2011. Last month, following a lengthy and contentious hearing, the Minister of Natural Resources directed the Niagara Escarpment Commission to issue a Development Permit which authorizes Hydro One to widen the existing transmission corridor across the escarpment. Hydro One’s website still predicts that they will have all necessary approvals by January 2009, for a fall 2011 in service date. Presumably, the line will now be in service sometime in 2013 or 2014.