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2013-12-02 at 16:14

Design flaws?

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Be Bob's Friend: Join our FacebookEverything is COZIER, WARMER, SEXIER, with a fireplace. Stylish Luxury meets functional heating at Bob's Intelligent Heating DecorClick Here

Initial design plans for the expansion of the East-West Tie transmission line has the co-chair of the regional energy task force worried.

The transmission line, when complete, will link Northeastern and Northwestern Ontario and is considered one of the top transmission projects in the province’s long-term energy plan.

As that project moves forward, Iain Angus said he’s growing concerned that the criteria being proposed by NextBridge Infrastructure, the consortium contracted for the transmission line, is not suitable for the harsh conditions of the terrain and climate.

He pointed to last winter’s ice storm that resulted in power outages along the north shore of Lake Superior as an example, and said there needs to be a greater focus on durability.

“The design criteria they’re following, Ontario’s minimum, indicates that there is five miles between system stability in terms of cascading,” Angus said on Monday following a luncheon hosted by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce to allow local business leaders to meet with executives from NextBridge.

“Five miles up in this country is a horrendous length when it comes to replacing towers. In the northwest we’d be in jeopardy because we’d be losing 650 megawatts of power coming into the region.”

One of the major selling points for NextBridge earning the project was their use of a guyed-y tower that has a single base pedestal to the ground.

This approach results in less steel being used than the conventional transmission towers, and thus cheaper.

Angus is concerned these new towers would not be strong enough, and if one goes down others will cascade along the line.

The alternative towers have smaller foundations, a feature that NextBridge project manager Oliver Romaniuk sees as an advantage.

He said early consultations have resulted in questions about the stability of the structures, and the process will involve an examination as to whether increased standards will be needed.

“Northern Ontario does have unique weather conditions, and all the structures we will be using will meet the Ontario Energy Board’s minimum requirements for strength and stability,” Romaniuk said. “We are investigating how some of these unique factors will affect this line.”

Ice storms, electrical storms, forest fires and regular interruptions are all things that Angus views as posing threats to the reliability of the line. He also does not want the region to be impacted by any blackouts in other areas of the province.

“There are all sorts of variables that impact our ability to bring power into the region,” Angus said.

“If we’re producing our own we’re back to being a self-sufficient island since we were when electricity was first brought into the northwest. We don’t want to be tied to southern Ontario.”

He added that the task force supports the expansion project of the transmission line.
However, he said it should be regarded as a piece of the region’s energy puzzle, not the lynchpin.

There is a discrepancy between what the task force and the Ontario Power Authority sees as the power load for the future with proposed mining projects.

“There’s more to be found,” Angus said. “They have gone from a projection of 800 megawatts needed to 1400, we’re still saying it’s going to be over 1600.”

OPA senior planner Nicole Hopper said they have been consulting with various interests to consolidate their projections.

“We do put a lot of weight into (local projections),” she said. “We did meet with local stakeholders in developing our forecasts. I think it’s important to bear in mind that a forecast is a prediction, and you have to be comfortable with what you’re predicting.”

Open houses will be held in Thunder Bay later Monday, and then in Nipigon, Marathon and Wawa later this week, as well as White River and Terrace Bay next week.

 

 

 

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Comments

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advocate says:
Not that engineers for these firms are always correct, but what makes Ian Angus think that he knows more than these engineers?
12/2/2013 4:50:15 PM
progress now says:
Because he is a "Northerner", and by definition holds opinions better than anyone could possibly hold from anywhere else - irrespective of education, professional credentials, or experience, because they are formed within the context of "a sense of place".

Our "Mr. opinion on everything" is oft in ere, but seldom in doubt.

Its works for him sometimes.
12/2/2013 7:12:07 PM
Glyder says:
He is asking questions. Isn't that what you would want him to do, or do you just blindly follow whatever the "experts" tell you.

If someone didn't ask these questions, and the line fails due to the harsh climate, you would be questioning why someone didn't question the "experts".
12/3/2013 8:06:58 AM
progress now says:
You could be right.

Mr. A's commentary could be objective critique guided by rational analysis, and disassociated completely from subjective self-serving prattle.

Sure, that could be.
12/3/2013 4:26:04 PM
ADO35 says:
Mr.Angus may be referring to the technical information filed with the Ontario Energy Board that resulted in the selection of Nextbridge. To quote one submission, available on the Board website, "When asked by the Board, NextBridge failed to provide a single example of double circuit guyed-Y design."
12/3/2013 12:12:35 PM
Rbosch says:
Mr. Anguas co-chair of the ETF is speaking on their behalf and what he is bringing forward are concerns that the ETF has expressed to the company. Their design is new to this region and it has been done to save money, thus making their proposal the most economically attractive to the powers that be, hence the selection of them as the constructor of choice. Their design is admittedly the minimum standard that the OEB has. To put a minimum standard tower design in service, which could potentially carry 650 MW's of load, which represents approximitely 50% of the total Region's load and not have a backup available, as they are not going to have palces like Thunder Bay GS and Atikokan GS available to run for long periods of time, should a long term failure of the circuit occur, especially should the load increase as projected.
12/2/2013 7:20:25 PM
dynamiter says:

This is the same criteria used everywhere in North America. Reliability criteria are established by an organization called North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). They made lots of changes after both the Eastern Ontario/Quebec ice storm and the 2003 blackout. I am 99% sure it's 5km not 5 miles. It works out to having a dead-end structure every 14 structures. A dead-end is about 3 times the cost of a light tangent. The system operators study this stuff to death, and it's really a simple net present value cost benefit analysis. What he doesn't realize is if there is an event that takes out the transmission towers, all of the distribution is lying flat on the ground long before that ever becomes a problem.
12/3/2013 7:09:29 PM
Nonsence says:
Well then, Mr Angus please explain how the same towers are used in the USA in States which are subject to tornados and hurricanes. The winds and forces from these type of storms trump anything NW Ontario weather can offer.

12/2/2013 8:26:47 PM
SMB says:
Why is it that people, especially politicians, seem to think that northwestern Ontario exists in some sort of unique climatic bubble where everything is harsher than anywhere else in the province? You want more wind, go to Sault Ste. Marie. You want more snow, go to Barrie. You want more hills, go to the Niagara escarpment. Colder, longer winters, go to Timmins. More isolated, try Gogama. Poor winter road maintenance, try driving the 401 around London right now. Quit griping about how tough life is in Thunder Bay!
12/3/2013 8:39:21 AM
PJabs says:
Engineers typically use standards designed for different severities of expected storms and the probable length of time between occurrances. There is no public information as to whether these towers were designed to withstand a 50 year storm or a 500 year storm. Also as we have seen lately the old standards do not apply as well as they used to as storms seem to be more energetic than before due to human carbon dioxdide emissions.
12/3/2013 9:40:05 AM
Nitesky says:
Could we not have a picture of the towers described in this story? I would like to know more about them. For instance, what will they do when confronted with muskeg?
12/3/2013 9:55:39 AM
The beaver..... says:
Thunder bay is so balmy and nice even the Geese don't go south anymore.
12/3/2013 1:49:32 PM
The beaver..... says:
Ian Angus is right on this one if you can remember the Ice storm in Quebec a few years ago these single platform towers came down like Dominos. The spacing between anchor towers was 2.7 miles and the design was 22 pounds load factor per pare foot
12/3/2013 1:58:02 PM
RBosch says:
@nnsense and SMD.... yes, it is true that these same towers are used in other areas, but there are numerous sources of sjpply where they do exist. The East/West tie is a dual circuit, single source of supply, running some 400 kilometers in length and it is the only connection to the rest of the Province. The terrain where much of it is being built has been admitted as being some of the toughest in the Province. It is not the fact that the circuit could come down, for as much as 5 miles, as per design and then having to rebuild same using helicopters, etc., let alone the fact that we would be missing the 650 MW of load capability. Their approach has nothing as a backup if that should occur. All that is being asked is to beef up the design to mitigate this happenstance. The East/West Tie line was out of service for approximately 2 weeks, due to an ice storm and the one redeeming fact was that our load was reduced, due to the Regional load being reduced to less than 700MW.
12/3/2013 2:30:19 PM
passlake says:
more hills in Niagara? you're kidding right? our hills are bigger. second highest point in Ontario is out near whitefish.. highest cliffs are the sleeping giant..
12/4/2013 9:58:00 PM
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