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Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford said Friday that three of his promised electricity transmission lines — which would increase Windsor’s power capacity and help secure deals like the imperilled LG Chem investment — are already in development.

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Ford made a campaign stop at Valiant Machine and Tool in Windsor to pledge that a re-elected PC party would invest about $1 billion on five new transmission lines in Southwestern Ontario.

“We have the three transmission lines moving forward in a rapid fashion, and that’s going to be able to handle all the electricity needs that are needed in Southwestern Ontario,” Ford told reporters on the factory floor as Valiant employees and PC supporters watched and cheered . “But we have two more ready to go.

“We’ll make sure we have enough electricity for any company that wants to open up here.”

Ford spent the better part of two days in the Windsor area, suggesting he has hopes for PC inroads in what has been an NDP stronghold for decades. The region has emerged as an election battleground, with Ford and NDP leader Andrea Horwath both arriving in Essex County on Thursday.

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Premier Doug Ford, left, poses with Andrew Dowie, Progressive Conservative candidate for the riding of Windsor-Tecumseh at a photo op in Tecumseh on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Premier Doug Ford, left, poses with Andrew Dowie, Progressive Conservative candidate for the riding of Windsor-Tecumseh at a photo op in Tecumseh on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

After a swing through London and Chatham-Kent, Ford stopped by Antonino’s Pizza in Tecumseh, visited Double Diamond Farms in Kingsville, made the announcement at Valiant, and re-affirmed the pledge to build a new mega-hospital.

“The whole land has shifted right now,” Ford said of his hope to sway Windsor voters away from the NDP.

He dangled another big carrot Friday with the promise of increased power capacity that would support recent private-sector investments and help spur new ones.

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Over the last 18 months, he said Ontario has seen $14 billion worth of investment in the auto sector.

In the largest investment in the history of the Canadian auto industry, Stellantis and South Korean firm LG Energy Solution announced in March they will build a $5-billion electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor that will employ about 2,500 people.

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Premier Doug Ford poses for photos with Valiant TMS employees in Windsor on Friday, May 13, 2022.
Premier Doug Ford poses for photos with Valiant TMS employees in Windsor on Friday, May 13, 2022. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Earlier this month Stellantis also announced it is investing $3.6 billion to retool its plants in Windsor and Brampton to produce electric vehicles, and return the factories to three-shift operations. The company also said it will add 650 engineering jobs in Windsor and create a 100,000 square foot electric vehicle platform and battery research lab in the city.

But after those blockbuster announcements, Windsor hit a recent snag with the realization it doesn’t have enough power capacity to handle expected industry and population growth.

The lack of capacity essentially pushed Windsor off the list of preferred sites for a new $2.5-billion LG Chem plant. The proposed 1.5 million sq. ft. Operation would supply cathodes and other materials to the upcoming Stellantis/LG Energy Solution battery plant, and employ about 1,000 people.

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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, who joined Ford at the PC campaign event on Friday, said the new transmission lines would ensure there is enough electricity to support the proposed LG Chem facility.

“Energy will not be the limiting factor for that facility,” said Dilkens, who also took the opportunity to officially endorse Ford for premier. “I’m thrilled to announce that, as a result of the work the province has done over the past few weeks.”

Premier Doug Ford, left, Sladjan Milidrag, Vice President of Global Powertrain Operations at Valiant TMS and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens checked out a robotics units prior to a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Windsor.
Premier Doug Ford, left, Sladjan Milidrag, Vice President of Global Powertrain Operations at Valiant TMS and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens checked out a robotics units prior to a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Windsor. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Essex County’s demand for electricity is expected to double in the next five years — arising from 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts — thanks to a growing population, expanding greenhouse industry, the new battery factory and its extensive supply chain.

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That’s about 20 times the growth in demand anticipated across the rest of Ontario.

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“To support this unprecedented growth, to ensure nothing stops additional investments, I’m here to announce that our PC government is fast-tracking the development of more than $1 billion worth of hydro infrastructure, including five new electricity transmission projects to power Southwestern Ontario’s growing economy, with three of them already in development,” said Ford. “We will stop at nothing to build the necessary infrastructure to support these investments.”

Ford said the province and industry representatives “got creative” to come up with a solution to the power capacity problem.

“We always believe in surrounding ourselves with some of the brightest people, no matter if it’s the auto sector, the energy sector,” he said. “And we came up with a solution. The solution is real. It’s going to happen, because we’re seeing endless companies come to Ontario.”

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Premier Doug Ford, left, is greeted by Joe Ciaravino, president of Antonino's Original Pizza on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Ford picked up a pizza at the Tecumseh shop during the brief photo op.
Premier Doug Ford, left, is greeted by Joe Ciaravino, president of Antonino’s Original Pizza on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Ford picked up a pizza at the Tecumseh shop during the brief photo op. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, and Premier Doug Ford are shown at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, and Premier Doug Ford are shown at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, and Premier Doug Ford are shown at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor.
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, left, and Premier Doug Ford are shown at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor.
Premier Doug Ford speaks at a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 at the Valiant TMS facility in Windsor. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Premier Doug Ford, left, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Sladjan Milidrag, Vice President of Global Powertrain Operations at Valiant TMS are shown prior to a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Windsor.
Premier Doug Ford, left, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens and Sladjan Milidrag, Vice President of Global Powertrain Operations at Valiant TMS are shown prior to a press conference on Friday, May 13, 2022 in Windsor. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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