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Ontario’s EV Battery Factories and Rural Landowners

3 minute read

Ontario’s landscape is transforming as automotive giants like Stellantis and Volkswagen lead the charge toward making electric cars. They’re building Giga, or “big,” factories in Windsor and St. Thomas to do it. These factories will create many jobs and bring new technology to the area.

The impact, however, goes beyond just the factories and government — reaching rural communities along the power lines that will supply these factories with electricity. Farmers and business owners in the affected areas have much to consider.

Let’s discuss what’s happening with these projects and what they mean for the people nearby.

The battery plants will require power that far exceeds current capacity. Hydro One is initiating infrastructure upgrades to meet this demand.

To service the Stellantis plant, Hydro One is planning two single-circuit, 500-kilovolt transmission lines to connect the Longwood Transformer Station (in the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc) to the Lakeshore Transformer Station (near Windsor), the “Lakeshore Line.”

For the Volkswagen plant, Hydro One will construct a 20-kilometre, 230-kilovolt, double-circuit transmission line from north of Highway 401 in London to St. Thomas’s Centennial Transformer Station. For this article’s purposes, we’ll call this the “St. Thomas Line.”

Three transmission line route alternatives are being evaluated for each project. Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act requires that transmission facility developers follow prescribed environmental planning processes and obtain necessary approvals.

Public consultation is required, allowing individuals potentially affected by the proposed development to voice their concerns. Feedback regarding impacts will be included in the final determination of the routes and appropriately addressed in the Class Environmental Assessment.

Both projects are at the consultation and community open house stage. Hydro One anticipates that the St. Thomas Line route will be selected in the fall of 2024, with the Lakeshore Line route selection slated for early 2025. For projects of this size, dates are often subject to change.

What Can Potentially Affected Landowners or Tenants Do?

Suppose you do not want the transmission lines or related infrastructure on or close to your property. Those who are potentially affected should consider taking the following steps:

  • Participate in public consultation meetings and submit detailed, written objections as soon as possible before the routes are selected. The more specifics you can provide in your objection, the better. Are there unique characteristics of your property or farming operation that the installation and operation of the transmission lines will affect or harm?
  • Keep apprised of applicable deadlines. Check Hydro One’s website regularly for project updates.
  • Ensure any properties you own or farm have up-to-date addresses so that important correspondence is not missed or delayed.
  • Consider keeping a detailed log of activities dealing with or working around the transmission line projects, including dates and time spent.

Though many landowners will be disappointed no matter which routes are selected, participating in the process may well feel better than sitting on the sidelines.

Once Hydro One selects the transmission routes, the rubber hits the proverbial road. Hydro One or its legal representatives will contact affected landowners and tenants with initial agreements for interest in the lands they seek. If affected landowners and tenants have not done so already, they will need to obtain legal representation right away.

Given the legislative framework in Ontario, rerouting a significant infrastructure project may be difficult or impossible. However, having independent legal advice maximizes the likelihood that landowners and tenants will secure the best possible deal.

There are also several technical and practical reasons to seek expert advice. Might the negotiation benefit from a third-party real estate appraisal? Will concerns such as liability to a tenant or insurance risks arise from having transmission lines on your lands? How can you ensure you are not out-of-pocket for future consequences of the Lakeshore Line or the St. Thomas Line?

These are questions best asked and answered before any deal is struck. Contact us today. We have offices in London, Strathroy, Waterloo, and Toronto ― with over 95 years of experience to serve you. We look forward to working with you.

Clark Armstrong

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Jessica Tracey

We are here to help.

Do you have any questions about your unique scenario? Feel free to reach out directly by visiting my Lerners Profile View My Full Profile