A recent Order in Council from the Ontario Government designated the East-West Tie transmission line as a “priority project” under section 96.1 of the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 (OEB Act). The East-West Tie is a proposed transmission line that will add capacity between Wawa and Thunder Bay to support electricity supply to Northeast Ontario. According to the Order in Council, the Government considers it to be a priority that the East-West Tie should be in service in 2020.

The “priority project” designation under section 96.1 of the OEB Act is a new option available to the Government as a result of the recent amendments set out in Bill 112. These amendments, which we discussed in an earlier post, were proclaimed on March 4, 2016. The East-West Tie is the first “priority project” designation to be issued.

The effect of the “priority project” designation under section 96.1 of the OEB Act is that the OEB is required to accept that the East-West Tie is needed when the OEB considers the “leave to construct” application under section 96 of the OEB Act. Practically, this means that there is no requirement for the applicant to establish need as part of the application. However, when considering such an application, the OEB will still have to consider other matters that are relevant to its determination, as set out under section 96(2) of the OEB Act.