Northwestern Ontario is a large region with diverse needs. In order to understand and meet specific local needs, the IESO, together with local communities, is undertaking planning processes in four sub-areas. Individual area plans are focused on those unique areas, but the solutions are interrelated. Once completed, the sub-regional plans will be integrated into an overall Northwest regional plan.
In addition, there are bulk planning activities underway in the region. Development work is ongoing for two priority bulk planning projects – the East-West Tie Expansion and the Northwest Bulk Transmission Line. For more information, see
Northwest Ontario Bulk Planning Initiatives.
The region is host to active mining and forestry operations. Expansion of these sectors are a driver of electricity growth in the region, as well as growth in communities that support them.
Additionally, there are 25 remote communities in the Northwest that are currently supplied electricity by diesel generation and are not connected to Ontario's transmission system. The need to develop a plan to connect remote communities was identified in the Minister of Energy's 2011 Supply Mix Directive. This will add electricity demand growth to the transmission system in the Northwest.
For regional planning purposes, Northwest Ontario includes the area roughly bounded by Lake Superior to the south, the Marathon area to the east, and the Manitoba border to the west. It includes the districts of Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay. The region accounts for approximately 60 percent of the land area in the province and approximately two percent of Ontario's total population. Roughly half of the population in the Northwest resides in the City of Thunder Bay, and the remaining population resides in smaller communities across the region.
The map indicates the approximate boundaries of the planning sub-regions within the Northwestern Ontario region. Click the map for a larger view.
Regional Planning Initiatives Underway in Northwest Ontario
Current status: An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) has been released for the Greenstone-Marathon sub-region.
North of Dryden
Current status: An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) has been released for the North of Dryden sub-region.
Current status: An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) has been released for the Thunder Bay sub-region.
West of Thunder Bay
Current status: An Integrated Regional Resource Plan (IRRP) has been released for the West of Thunder Bay sub-region.
Remote Community Connection Plan
Current status: The draft Remote Community Connection Plan continues to be in draft form as community engagement has not yet been finalized. Efforts are underway to finalize engagement so that all communities who wish to provide input to be documented and considered within the plan, are able to do so.