Hydro One Networks Inc. has began a second round of Public Information Centres (PICs) on its proposal to build a 180-kilometre transmission line between the Bruce Power facility and its switching station in Milton.
The PICs are intended to provide public information on the environmental assessment of the proposed project, and to receive public feedback. Local PICs were held Monday in Grand Valley and Tuesday in East Garafraxa.
Meanwhile, the first round of PICs was supposed to have wrapped up last week with the scheduled conclusion of Ontario Energy Board (OEB) hearings in Toronto. The hearings, however, will stretch into the middle of June.
Three additional hearings were scheduled to be held on consecutive Wednesdays, the first having taken place yesterday.
The extension has been prompted, in part, by a recent submission from the Northeast Power Co-ordinating Council (NPCC), an international body that monitors reliability and efficient operation of power systems within its jurisdiction, which covers Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the northeastern United States.
The NPCC is addressing the use of generation rejection in the transmission process. Generation rejection is a computer-run system that monitors transmission and performs disconnections should a problem occur.
Some of the interveners – concerned groups or individuals, other than the applicants who are appearing before the OEB – maintain that Hydro One claimed, in their initial application to build the new line, that generation rejection was an appropriate interim measure that could be used to deal with such problems as transmission congestion and power fluctuations.
It appears now, however, that Hydro One is in agreement with NPCC’s contention that it shouldn’t be appropriate for such interim uses and should only come into play when there’s a system collapse, such as the lines going down in a snow storm.
Gary Schneider, project director for the Bruce- Milton Transmission Reinforcement Project, uses a highway analogy where the transmission lines are the lanes of a highway and generation rejection is, more or less, the shoulders of the road. Should an accident occur, traffic can be re-routed on to the shoulders while the damage is being cleared up.
“It helps in the shortterm,” says Mr. Schneider, “but, by no means, should be permanent.”
Wednesday’s initial meeting was to have a panel of representatives from Hydro One and Independent Electricity Systems Operators (IESO). The last two will give interveners the opportunity to present their experts.
Opponents of the line feel that Hydro One, which maintains that the line is necessary to carry increased generated power from Bruce and projected wind power from the area, has not sufficiently explored alternative methods of transmission.
They say Hydro One has failed to produce the proper evidence that alternative transmission methods are not sufficient.
Chris Pappas, a resident of Rocklyn and staunch opponent of the project, says Hydro One must consider all reasonable and relevant alternatives in use in North America, “and produce technical, financial, and cost comparative studies for these alternatives.
“This is due diligence and it is absolutely required by the OEB. Other highly relevant alternatives were completely ignored and no technical or financial studies were submitted.”
When an applicant wishes to present a proposal to the OEB, there are minimal filing requirements, including the following: “The applicant is expected to also compare the alternatives versus the preferred option along various risk factors including, but not limited to, financial risk to the applicant, inherent technical risks, estimation accuracy risks, and any other critical risk that may impact the business case supporting the proposed project.” Hydro One says it has fulfilled these requirements. Opponents contend it hasn’t, using the alternative of installing Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced (ACCR) wire as an example.
ACCR has a thermal limit of between 200 and 240 degrees C, while present lines in Ontario have a limit of just over 90 degrees C. Lines start to lose power when a thermal limit is reached. Thus, ACCR has the conceivable capacity to consistently carry twice the amount of power over the present system.
Hydro One says its study of the ACCR option was presented to the OEB. While admitting that it is a superior, high-performance line, the utility says the cost of implementing ACCR would be about $1.8 billion.
The projected cost of the new transmission line is about $650 million. This would affirm Hydro One’s claim that it has, indeed, studied alternatives and chosen an avenue that is fiscally prudent.
Mr. Schneider says all lines coming out of the Bruce site would have to be changed to the expensive ACCR, which would need to be done in up to 23 sequential phases, would take up to 15 years.
By Dan Pelton
29 May 2008
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