As the Golden Horseshoe grows, so do the power needs of the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge-Guelph areas.
As township councillors here found out on July 15, councillors found out Puslinch is part of the equation.
And part of the plans for the future of Puslinch include the rebuild of an existing transmission line from Guelph to Puslinch and to upgrade station facilities in Guelph.
Planner Bernice Chan represented IESO (Independent Electricity Systems Operator), regarding the Integrated Regional Resource Plan for Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and Wellington County.
Chan explained the IESO is the provincial agency responsible for electricity planning in Ontario.
“Our job is to make sure communities have a safe reliable energy supply over the long term.”
Chan added that while electricity planning for the local area has been underway for a considerable time, a recent milestone was the creation of a 20-year electricity plan.
She said the IESO thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to the communities in the region.
She spoke briefly on the electricity infrastructure currently serving Puslinch.
In 2014, electricity demand in Puslinch peaked at about 27MW. Overall demand in the planning area was 1250MW.
She agreed population and employment is growing in this area and anticipated annual demand to grow by about 2% per year. Average growth for the region is pegged at an annual growth reate of 2.5%
The main infrastructure is comprised of a local substation and a 115kV transmission line from Burlington and the main local utility is Hydro One.
Because of local priorities and projected growth in the overall region, Chan said part of the IESO process is to partner with Hydro One to integrate local needs.
“The main purpose of electricity planning to make sure the power system is able to deliver the power to communities when they need it.”
The planning also identifies potential limitations … which can result in construction of new power stations or rebuilding existing transmission infrastructure.
“In many cases there may be opportunities to reduce energy consumption at the community level.”
Chan added that IESO is mandated by the Ontario Energy Board to carry out similar planning processes in regions across the province.
The 20-year-plan for the local region includes a recognition that this region is designated by the province as one of the Places to Grow.
Because of that, Chan said it is anticiptae the population is expected to grow 40 per cent in the next 20 years.
While Chan agreed there is interest in developing smaller projhects, there is currently no large central generation resources in the region.
What that means from a distribution standpoint is that this area relies on having the infrastrucutre to have power delivered into the community.
Another key component is the implementation of the provincial conservation targets across the province.
“We believe that conservation efforts could potnetially offset 40% of the growth requiremnts over the next 10 years.”
As a result the proposed plans incorporate potential conservation efforts.
Chan noted that because of current growth in the region, three of the main sources of supply coming into the region are approaching capacity.
One of those sources at or near capacity, is currently the main supplier of Puslinch.
To support future growth, the idea would be to suppliment that with power distribution from Guelph.
“To do this we recommend the rebuild of an existing transmission line and upgrading a station in the Guelph area.”
Chan said this project has already been approved by the Ontario Energy Board and expected to come into service in spring 2016.
“The great thing about this project is that it is utilizing and maximizing use of existing infrastrucutre.”
Chan said this move will improve power supply to the township because it accesses an alternative supply of power from the north.
“It will significantly improve access to power in this township.”
In the long term, Chan said the expectation is that this region will continue to grow, but that once the Guelph Area Transmission Refurbishment project is in place, it should address local needs to 2033.
Chan realized planning is a continuous process and that there will be an ongoing monitoring and dialogue with communities in this region.
“Over the next year we will be setting up a series of meetings to talk about supply in the region.”
Councillor Ken Roth suggested 40% conservation seemed to be a high number.
“How do you plan on conserving 40% of the electricty?”
Chan agreed that the provincial target is agressive, and will require working closely with local utiliites regarding conservation programs.
She said there will be monitoring to determine whether those goals are on track, and to adapt accordingly.
Roth said a lot of people are trying to conserve power, but wasn’t certain many saw a difference in their hydro bills.
He commented about a letter he’d recieved stating he was using 80% more hydro than his neighbours … but upon talking to his neighbours, they had recieved letters stating they were using 80% more hydro than their neighbours.
Though he realized Chan was not with Hydro One, councillor Wayne Stokley asked if she could speculate why there have been more power outages in some areas of the township.
He asked whether that could be an issue with the infrastrucutre.
Chan said a lot depended on what type of power outages they were.
Potentially some areas could be more susceptable because of instratructure.
She recommended contacting Hydro One directly.
Stokley said others in the township have posed the question to Hydro One representatives.
“It just seems in certain areas around Concession 1 and Puslinch Lake there seem to be a lot of outages there – more than any other location in the township.”
Chan said there are different reasons why outages can happen.
However, she also said from what Stokley said, it seemed to be an issue of low voltage, but was willing to speak with him after the meeting.
Stokley asked if the new towers being constructed near the Hanlon Parkway were part of the Guelph refurbishment project.
She believed it was.
Mayor Dennis Lever said “to hear the system now is pretty much at capacity is not really good News … but to hear you have a plan in place to remedy it certainly is.”
Lever had concern this plan did not come into play earlier before the distribution system approached capactiy.
“I have heard from local industries that they have had some difficulties in getting sufficient power supply for their operation.”
The mayor added “… but I’m glad there is a fix on the way.”