A proposed transmission line from the Bruce nuclear power plants to the Milton switching station has been highly criticized in a report prepared for the Saugeen Ojibway Nations.
In his report, public utility consultant Whitfield Russell says the proposed project “cannot be justified as a better project than the reasonable alternatives.”
Hydro One Networks Inc. is proposing to construct approximately 180 kilometres of double-circuit 500 kilovolt (kv) transmission lines adjacent to the existing Bruce- Milton transmission corridor.
Ontario Energy Board (OEB) hearings on the issue commenced late last week in Orangeville and continue this week in Toronto.
Since Hydro One first announced its intentions to build the line, concerned parties and individuals, as intervenors, have argued that the new line is unnecessary.
Hydro One disagrees. The utility contends that increased generation from the Bruce plant, along with wind power being generated or planned in the area has made the new transmission line necessary.
In his report, Mr. Russell maintains that Hydro One has “misstated the need for transmission capability” by including in its analysis significant sources of generation that have not been committed or approved.”
Based in Alexandria, Va., Mr. Russell has appeared, as an expert on bulk power systems, in more than 150 proceedings in the United States and Canada.
In the case of wind power, only about 20 megawatts (MW) currently uses the existing 500 kv lines, and the Melancthon Power Project’s ultimate capacity of 200 MW is linked to the 230-kv line into the Orangeville Transformer Station. Hydro One points out, however, that 700 MW of wind power have been contracted by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) for use in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
There is also, Hydro One says, the potential for 1,000 more megawatts once planned wind turbines are in place. This, the company says, further emphasizes the need for a second line.
These predictions concern Mr. Russell.
“Hydro One includes, in its analysis, 1,000 MW of potential wind generation in (its) Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP) that has not yet been approved, committed or developed,” he says in his report. “Hydro One also assumes the refurbishment of four Bruce B nuclear reactors producing approximately 3,400 megawatts of generation beginning in 2018 – “a decision that will not be made or approved until some time in the future.”
He also contends that installation of series capacitors on existing transmission lines should ensure adequate transmission in the future.
“Use of series capacitors will protect the interests of consumers with respect to reliability in that such an upgrade would be less susceptible to construction delays,” he says. Capacitors “would meet industry reliability criteria and would avoid undue concentration of delivery facilities on the Bruce- Milton right-of-way that has historically been susceptible to tornadoes.”
Proponents of the new transmission line don’t discount the possibility of future generated power being accommodated by existing lines.
But they feel the need for more transmission lines is ultimately inevitable.
Duncan Hawthorne, president and chief executive of Bruce Power, sees capacitor technologies as “a coping strategy” that is “good for the interim and not a long-term solution to the problem.”
Besides the projected wind power generation, there is the additional power created once two refurbished generating units come on line next year.
“When we start these units, we will have 6,500 megawatts of power from one location. You really want this new transmission line to give you a bit of diversity. ”
Mr. Hawthorne is also concerned that fewer lines could have dire consequences should there be a failure.
“We would have units selected for full-load rejection in case of a line failure, which is not an ideal position.”
He points to a recent line failure near London. As a result of it, Mr. Hawthorne says, Bruce had to reduce the output from two of its units by 1,000 megawatts.
Mr. Russell disagrees with Mr. Hawthorne`s position. He says series capacitors and generation rejection, (where a line automatically trips when transmission problems, such as overloads, are detected), “will be a reasonable alternative for delivering the output of as many as eight units (at the Bruce stations), plus the output of approximately 1,075 megawatts of wind generation.”
He also says capacitors will cost about $97 million, in contrast to the $650 million price tag associated with a new line.
By Dan Pelton
8 May 2008
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