Windsor

Greenhouse owner frustrated with state of electrical supply to Leamington

Peter Quiring, owner of NatureFresh Farms in Leamington, says the government isn't moving fast enough to address an impending electrical supply shortage in Essex County.

'We're going to expand somewhere; if it isn't here, it's going to be somewhere else," says Peter Quiring

The electrical grid serving greenhouses in Essex County is at capacity, even after a 2018 upgrade, according to a Leamington greenhouse owner. (NatureFresh Farms)

A Leamington greenhouse owner says he may be forced to expand his booming business outside of Essex County because of ongoing concerns about electrical supply.

Peter Quiring, owner of NatureFresh Farms in Leamington, said the government isn't moving fast enough to address an impending electrical supply shortage in the region.

"We're going to expand somewhere; if it isn't here, it's going to be somewhere else," he said, noting he expanded to Ohio a few years ago due to similar concerns over electrical supply and cost.

The growing greenhouse sector in Windsor-Essex is demanding lots of power, which is expected to exceed the capacity of the current systems in place, according to a report by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Peter Quiring is the owner of NatureFresh Farms in Leamington. (NatureFresh Farms)

The Reliability Outlook, an assessment of the provincial electricity system from January 2019 to December 2023, takes a look at Ontario's demand forecast.

"A solution is required as soon as possible," the report said.

Quiring said a recent upgrade to the grid completed by Hydro One last year is already used up.

"That was fully subscribed before it was even turned on," he told Afternoon Drive's Chris dela Torre. "They're now actually in the process of twinning the transmission station, and that is also fully subscribed."

Expanding that capacity even more would take three to seven years under the "extremely onerous" existing regulatory framework, Quiring said — and moving to other parts of the province to be closer to generating stations isn't necessarily feasible due to the favourable microclimate in southern Essex County.

Tap on the player to hear Quiring's interview on Afternoon Drive.

The greenhouse industry in Essex County is booming - so much that it's expected that demand for electricity will soon exceed supply. We spoke to Peter Quiring, owner of NatureFresh Farms in Leamington, about what this means for his industry. 7:25

Quiring would like to see the the provincial government streamline the approval process, arguing that a similar fast-track method was used to expedite the approval of wind turbines.

"With a stroke of a pen, they took the powers away from municipalities for wind [turbines] and ... [turbines] went up overnight," he said.

"The provincial government could make the decision that they're going to expedite some of the approvals, and I'm positive we could get it done between two and four years."

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

With files from the CBC's Flora Pan

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