TORONTO — The Ontario government has scuttled the Ontario Energy Board’s review of the 450-kilometre East-West Tie Line Project from Thunder Bay to Wawa, awarding the project to NextBridge Infrastructure.
The recent announcement ends Hydro One’s bid to build the Lake Superior Link project, explains a statement.
The project involves the construction of a new double-circuit transmission line between the Lakehead Transformer Station in the Municipality of Shuniah east of Thunder Bay and the Wawa Transformer Station near Wawa.
Ontario Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Greg Rickford commented in a statement, “Maintaining reliability and cost efficiency is a top priority for our government. The East-West Tie Line has long been identified as a priority project to provide a consistent supply of electricity that supports economic growth, job creation and resource development in northwestern Ontario.
“Unfortunately, the Ontario Energy Board’s review process has taken longer than expected, putting the timely construction of this necessary project at risk and potentially increasing costs for electricity customers.”
The government statement noted NextBridge has completed significant preliminary work on the project and had consulted extensively with local First Nations and Metis communities.
Hydro One expressed disappointment in the decision in another statement. Greg Kiraly, Hydro One COO, commented, “We would like to thank the stakeholders, community members and Indigenous partners who welcomed us through our consultations over the past year.”
A statement from the Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO) praised the decision, which it said resolves whether Hydro One’s “11th-hour” attempt to secure designation would be allowed to proceed.
“These actions created uncertainty in a regulatory process that was initiated in 2009 and would have negatively affected Ontario taxpayers, First Nations and the MNO, if allowed to continue,” said the MNO release.
The MNO also acknowledged the “years of work” NextBridge has undertaken in working to establish relationships and agreements with First Nations and Metis communities that has led to a “fair and equitable model of economic participation of all proximate Indigenous communities.”
“NextBridge is the right company to complete the project given that it has already finished preliminary work necessary to complete the project, including its dedication to gaining the support of the MNO and First Nations,” said Cam Burgess, MNO regional councillor for the north of Lake Superior region.