Greg Rickford is supporting the developments of the East-West Tie Line Project, a new electrical transmission line set between Thunder Bay and Wawa.
While the new line will be located east of the region, the Kenora – Rainy River MPP and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Northern Development and Mines and Energy says that the new project will not only bring job creation, but will increase electrical reliability across all of northwestern Ontario.
"Maintaining reliability and cost-efficiency is a top priority for our government," said Rickford, in a prepared release. "Moving forward with the East-West Tie Line will support economic growth in northwestern Ontario, signalling that Ontario is Open for Business, and connecting communities and Indigenous people with good, local job opportunities, now and in the future.”
Earlier this month, Rickford and the provincial government directed the Ontario Energy Board to designate NextBridge – not Hydro One - as the transmitter to build the new line.
“Indigenous communities took leadership on it. The Ontario Energy Board was prolonging it. Hydro One came in after being ruled out five years ago, and came in with a cost proposal that was missing components. Indigenous partners, municipalities, and NextBridge had put together a really sound business case for the project,” said Rickford, during a recent interview.
The Ontario Energy Board issued a non-decision before Christmas, prompting Rickford and his staff to issue a directive to the OEB to accept NextBridge’s project proposal.
NextBridge had already trained 300 local workers for the project, but many were taking other job offers as the project repeatedly saw delays. The project as a whole is expected to create over 600 jobs, with more than 50 per cent of them being offered to Indigenous community members in the region.
NextBridge says that the project is required to ensure the long-term reliability of the electricity supply in northwestern Ontario. Emerging industrial activities in the area, notably the mining sector, are expected to drive strong electricity demand growth in the area.
The Independent Electricity System Operator has identified supply needs for the region, which need to be met with additional generation or transmission. In 2010, the provincial government identified the project as a priority.
The date for the completion of the project has been updated to 2020. Originally, the project was set for completion in the first half of 2018. Rickford says that he hopes to see shovels in the ground in June, 2019.
Ultimately, the Kenora – Rainy River MPP says that the East-West Tie Line Project is just another step towards lowering hydro bills for ratepayers across the province, in an effort to level the playing field.
“Our biggest challenge is that we don’t want to subsidize the rates, we want to actually cut it. We exposed the previous government for just mounting debt on, by subsidizing the rate. We’d like to reduce rates by another 12 per cent.”
“We’ve cut rates by a couple per cent now, but it’s not translating onto the people’s bills yet. It might be another couple of years before the full 12 per cent cut, but we’re well on our way.”
Rickford also pointed to the recent Kenora Hydro and Thunder Bay Hydro merger to become Synergy North, as a great development to help lower provincial energy costs.
For more information:
New electrical line approved for region
Synergy North a step forward, Rickford