Ontario’s Hydro One submitted a $17-billion capital investment plan last month to the Ontario Energy Board that its leaders say will address the need to repair aging infrastructure, deal with climate change and meet growth targets.
Hydro One’s chief corporate affairs officer Jason Fitzsimmons and COO David Lebeter presented the plan at a public event, with Fitzsimmons saying, “It’s a plan which is strategically important to the province and in particular to our customers. Investing in the electricity system is critical to economic growth in the province, improving service for our customers and preparing for the impacts of climate change.”
Hydro One is a distributor of power that buys 96 per cent of its power from non-carbon sources. Over the next half-decade the firm plans to install 1,500 kilometres of high voltage powerlines and renew other equipment on the high voltage transmission system; replace 129 transformers and upgrade infrastructure at approximately 200 transmission stations; install about 65,000 replacement wooden poles and perform other upgrades on the distribution system; and replace 10 per cent of its stock of distribution transformers.
Lebeter said nearly one in 20 of the firm’s poles are at risk of failure, 4,000 kilometres of transmission lines need to be replaced, and one in four steel towers is 80 years old.
Most of Hydro One’s infrastructure was built after the Second World War, Fitzsimmons said.
“We need to renew or replace critical infrastructure in almost every community across the province as storms get stronger and more frequent. We must proactively prepare our system to withstand the impacts of climate change, to support a growing economy, to shift to electrification and greater customer choice,” he said.
“We must look forward and build a grid for the future.”
Hydro One said its plan to reduce power outages for distribution customers by 25 per cent will be accomplished using automation and newer technology; removing dead and diseased trees; installing 1,000 smart devices per year for customers who experience the most power outages; and installing taller and thicker poles.
Other modernization spending will include new meter technology, new battery systems for First Nations and other modern battery and energy storage equipment.
Hydro One distributes electricity to 1.4 million residential and business customers and plans to expand its customer base by 18,000 buyers per year. Some segments such as data centres and cannabis grow operations will require extensive energy infrastructure.
“Electricity needs to be available to attract and retain industry, and to grow local industry,” said Lebeter. “We’re now seeing an important shift in electrification and EV adoption strategies in decarbonizing our environment. These additional investments covered by the plan prepare ourselves and set our system up for our success in that environment.”
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