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Hydro One proposes cheaper alternative to East-West transmission project


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Hydro One proposes cheaper alternative to East-West transmission project

Hydro One Ltd. has asked an Ontario regulator to allow it to build a C$636.2 million transmission system through the northwest region of the province, claiming it will be cheaper for ratepayers than a network being proposed by rival NextBridge Infrastructure.

Hydro One said its proposal, called the Lake Superior Link, will save C$120 million in capital costs and C$3.2 million in operating, maintenance and administrative costs compared with the NextBridge plan. In the Feb. 15 filing with Ontario Energy Board, the company said it would achieve much of the savings by using a shorter and narrower route than the competing project.

Ontario's government declared an East-West Tie Project a priority in 2016. NextBridge proposed its 450-kilometer project with an initial cost estimate of C$419 million, which had ballooned to approximately C$777.2 million by the end of July 2017. The increased cost prompted the province to request a reevaluation of the project.

The Lake Superior Link's lower costs "are materialized by a narrower and shorter route alternative and by using Hydro One's existing OM&A processes and infrastructure," Hydro One's filing said. "Further, Hydro One's existing facilities allows Hydro One to minimize the necessary corridor width for the Lake Superior Link Project and provides Hydro One the ability to go through Pukaskwa National Park, thus reducing development of greenfield areas which is well-aligned with Ontario's provincial planning objectives."

Hydro One is proposing a 230-kV, double-circuit transmission line that would run in a right-of-way that would roughly parallel that of its existing 230-kV line. The new line would span 368 kilometers and include a 57-kilometer bypass of two northern Ontario communities. The application said Hydro One is in discussions with Parks Canada to convert approximately 35 kilometers of the existing 230-kV, double-circuit line within Pukaskwa National Park to a four-circuit line.

The application is EB-2017-0364 filed with the Ontario Energy Board.