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North of Dryden - Regional Plan

​The North of Dryden area is forecast to experience some of the highest growth in electrical demand in Ontario. This is due to global demand for a number of minerals extracted in the area, and above-average population growth in the remote First Nations communities which have plans to connect to the IESO-controlled grid in the latter part of the decade.

Current status: An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) has been released for this sub-region.


IRRP outcome

The IRRP proposes two initiatives to meet the near-term electricity needs north of Dryden:

  1. building a new 230 kV transmission line from the Dryden / Ignace area to Pickle Lake

  2. upgrading the existing transmission lines from Dryden to Ear Falls and from Ear Falls to Red Lake

The estimated cost of these projects during the planning period is about $124 million. Together these projects increase the Pickle Lake subsystem's ability to meet demand from 24 MW to up to 160 MW, and more than double the Red Lake subsystem's ability to meet demand, taking it from 61 MW to 130 MW.


How to get involved

The 2015 North of Dryden IRRP has been developed by a Working Group, led by the IESO, working with existing and potential future industrial customers, local distribution companies and transmission companies/proponents in the area to ensure their plans for development are factored into the analysis. Hydro One Networks Inc. have also provided analytical and technical support in developing planning options and cost estimates.

Municipal engagement and Aboriginal consultation were conducted in the development of the 2015 IRRP. Proponents of the two proposed initiatives are responsible for further engagement on these projects. In up to five years, the IESO will revisit the plan, and community members in the region will be reengaged.

See North of Dryden engagement initiative.


Area overview

The North of Dryden IRRP involves a sub-region of the Northwest and includes the area extending northward from Dryden to the towns of Ear Falls, Red Lake, Pickle Lake and surrounding areas. Electricity to the sub-region is currently supplied by the 115-kilovolt (kV) Hydro One transmission system.

The North of Dryden IRRP also considers the potential future upstream supply requirements to enable the economic transmission connection of 21 remote First Nation communities. The technical and economic analysis for the connection of these remote First Nation communities is contained in the Remote Community Connection Plan.

The Ring of Fire mining development is also a major consideration in the medium to long term for the North of Dryden IRRP.

It should be noted that the study area does not include supply to the town of Dryden or Sioux Lookout. Supply to these communities is included in the West of Thunder Bay study.

North of Dryden MapMap of North of Dryden Region

See active engagement


Historical context

Included in the scope of North of Dryden planning is a new line to Pickle Lake. The 2010 Long Term Energy Plan ("LTEP") identified a new line to Pickle Lake as one of the five priority transmission projects required for serving new load. In the subsequent Supply Mix Directive, the Minister of Energy directed the Independent Electricity System Operator (formerly the Ontario Power Authority) to include a new line to Pickle Lake in its plans, and to define and make recommendations on the scope and timing of this new line. The 2013 LTEP continued to identify a new line to Pickle Lake and the connection of remote First Nation communities as priorities for Ontario.