Oil & gas pipeline and transport company Enbridge gets local support for Ontario BESS projects

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The local authority in an Ontario municipality has given its backing to a plan by energy company Enbridge to build three large-scale battery storage projects in the Canadian province.

Enbridge is probably best known as the owner-operator of oil pipelines and gas transportation, but with a natural gas utility business and investments in more than 2GW of renewable energy capacity across a range of technologies, predominantly offshore wind.

The company wants to develop three battery energy storage systems (BESS) on parcels of land that it already owns in the St Claire Township municipality. Each of the three sites could potentially host a BESS with up to 200MW nameplate power rating, according to an Enbridge proposal document.

As reported by Energy-Storage.news last October, Ontario’s government ordered the procurement of between 1,500MW and 2,500MW of energy storage to help meet projected shortfalls in energy supply.

According to modelling by the Ontario Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), while the situation today is not that tight – in fact there is a surplus of resources – but by 2025 and 2026, retiring nuclear and natural gas capacity will create a shortfall, the grid operator has said.

Part of a wider 4,000MW procurement which will include 1,500MW of new gas facilities, the IESO is holding competitive solicitations to get the capacity required at lowest cost.

These will be held in two tranches: the first will see 1.5GW procured and entering operations in May 2025, including a minimum 900MW of BESS; the second will see 2.5GW of procurements for resources to enter service in 2027 including a minimum 600MW of BESS.

Enbridge wants to enter the three would-be BESS projects into the IESO solicitations. The company said the nameplate capacities of the projects will be determined through IESO assessments of the right sizing while equipment to be used is also to be determined.

If the projects are selected through IESO’s request for proposals (RfP) in March this year, Enbridge will conduct environmental, land use and interconnection studies. It intends to begin construction in 2024, and promised to employ local vendors and services for work including the studies and construction of association infrastructure like substations.

Township offers support after some back and forth, local paper says

Regional newspaper The Sarnia Observer said yesterday that in a mid-January meeting of the St Claire Township Council, support from the municipality for the projects was confirmed.

There appears to have been a little bit of controversy, or possibly simply misunderstanding among the councillors, albeit that has been resolved, according to Sarnia Observer writer Carl Hnatyshyn.

One councillor had proposed a motion to withdraw backing offered by the municipality in a previous meeting, held in December 2022, based on certain concerns that the municipality’s decisions on the projects could be overruled by Ontario provincial authorities.

That motion was defeated however, and the Council’s support for the Enbridge BESS portfolio stands, while the company is set to host another public meeting in a few days’ time.

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