Ontario Energy Minister Designates Transmitter for East-West Tie Line

Ontario's Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines has given the go-ahead for the building of a major power line between Wawa and Thunder Bay.

A release from Minister Greg Rickford says the Progressive Conservative government's "taken decisive action to designate NextBridge as the transmitter to build" the 450-kilometre, double-circuit transmission line, known as the "East-West Tie Line".

NextBridge was originally awarded the project, but the previous Liberal government ordered a review of options after project costs jumped from $419-million to $777-million.

Hydro One submitted its own proposal, the "Lake Superior Link", which the utility argued would provide "significant cost savings" and minimize the "environmental footprint", including using their own existing corridor to take the line through Pukaskwa National Park - NextBridge was forced to plan their route around the park.

Minister Rickford says 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", adding "NextBridge is the right choice to quickly and efficiently complete" the project, having finished preliminary work for it, and gained the support of local communities and First Nation and Metis partners.

This comes less than two weeks after Bamkushwada Limited Partnership - a partnership of six First Nations along the line's route, including Michipicoten First Nation - had called for the provincial government to grant NextBridge leave to construct, arguing Hydro One hadn't carried out the constitutionally-required duty to consult and accommodate First Nations - unlike NextBridge - and they raised concerns that the Hydro One proposal would be built much later than NextBridge's.