Hydro One upgrades are needed as soon as possible to ensure growth of the greenhouse sector in Windsor-Essex is not constrained, according to a report by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). The report looked at provincial electricity demand from Jan. 2019 to Dec. 2023.
CBC Windsor reported recently that most of the growth in electricity demand is due to greenhouses, with about 80 per cent being vegetable growers, and the remainder used for cannabis production.
In December 2018, the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) attended a local advisory committee meeting of stakeholders, including Union Gas, to discuss the power problem. The shortage has delayed expansion for some growers in the past, but Justine Taylor, OGVG science and government relations manager, said the organization is now working well with IESO to communicate growers’ needs.
"One of the upgrades went into service just this past fall, and there are a series of upgrades planned over the next couple of years to make sure most of the short to mid-term demand is met," said Taylor.
CBC Windsor reported that a ministry of energy spokesperson said the upgrade is able to meet some of the region's demand and that "the IESO is aware of the continued growth in this region, and is working to identify and address further electricity needs through regional electricity planning."
In the meantime, a short to mid-term solution for growers could be to combine heat and power solutions for on-site generation, according to Taylor, acknowledging that "it's a big upfront investment."
Other options include energy conservation programs such as the Save on Energy program for energy upgrades and AgriPump Rebate Program, both offered through Hydro One.
The next local advisory committee meeting will be held in February 2019.
Source: CBC Windsor January 5, 2019 report