Tailoring energy solutions to address community growth in Windsor-Essex

Sep 10, 2020

Although our province’s electricity future is generally considered stable and secure for the next decade, this is not necessarily the case for all of Ontario’s communities. Unlike more urban centres in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area where anticipated growth and emerging electricity needs are 10 or more years into the future, more rural communities in parts of southwestern Ontario are experiencing significant, rapidly increasing demand. 

The Windsor-Essex region, home to the largest cluster of greenhouses North America in Essex County, is experiencing urgent and imminent needs that are challenging the existing electricity infrastructure. Along with other businesses in the area, new and expanded greenhouses are contributing to electricity demand that is expected to at a minimum, double over the next five years.

Two major infrastructure projects recommended by the IESO are underway that will increase the electricity capacity to the region and supply this growth. Having said that, these projects take time and the growth continues to mount, which called for other innovative approaches to address these needs. Informed by feedback received from communities and interested parties, the IESO issued a targeted call for proposals to support the testing and implementation of solutions to cost-effectively reduce electricity demand from indoor agricultural facilities during local and provincial peak periods. Four projects put forward in the Kingsville/Leamington area encompassing nine indoor agriculture facilities will test some of these novel approaches that will provide results and learning for future initiatives. We will continue to provide the Network updates on these projects as they are available.

While part of the solution will come from a new switching station and transmission line that will increase supply to Windsor-Essex and testing of innovative solutions, a greenhouse study the IESO completed shows there is also great potential for energy efficiency. Greenhouses can achieve up to 55% in energy savings by switching to LED lighting that can also help to manage increasing electricity demand. Enhanced incentives through the Save on Energy Retrofit program were introduced specifically for greenhouses located in Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. To learn more about the program and to hear about a case study, visit: www.saveonenergy.ca/agriculture