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Canada undertakes upgrading its aging electrical grid

August 1, 2017
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The need for modernizing the grid is leading to unprecedented levels of capital investment, and Wisconsin companies can contribute.

Canada faces enormous costs to upgrade and expand its electrical transmission and distribution system. With a network of more than 160,000 kilometers (99,000 miles) of high-voltage lines, there is a desire to integrate more renewable power into the grid, build a smarter grid, and export more power.

Canada’s power industry faces a need to maintain aging facilities, and operators are tasked with integrating more intermittent generation from renewable sources and incorporating smarter grid systems. There are more than 35 electrical transmission interconnections between the Canadian and U.S. power systems, with the two systems forming a highly integrated grid. This integration is set to continue expanding, with multiple cross-border transmission projects currently in various stages of development. Every Canadian province along the U.S. border is electrically interconnected with one or more neighboring U.S. states.

Canadian utilities are investing in smart systems in substations that encompass automation and monitoring of various aspects of utility operations. Technologies labeled “smart grid” allow for vast improvements in utility efficiency, security and reliability.

Key factors driving these decisions include:

  1. Canada will need to invest $350 billion over the next 20 years to renew aging infrastructure.
  2. Many systems are at the end of their life cycle.
  3. Electricity is considered a strategic asset for social and economic prosperity.
  4. Procuring the cheapest system is not necessarily in the best interest of future generations.
  5. Focus will be on both low costs and the need to provide reliable and sustainable electrical power.

Canada’s electrical sector is in the midst of a period characterized by unprecedented capital investment in an effort to modernize infrastructure. This accounts for a more than $55 billion investment in electrical infrastructure across the country, with employment expected to increase in electricity, construction, manufacturing and other service industries through 2030.

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