IPL Project


The weekend work previously announced to complete the International Power Line Project, involving helicopter installation of ropes across the Niagara River, has been postponed until Sunday, December 20 due to the predicted snow weather event for Buffalo and surrounding areas.

Traffic interruptions on interstate 190 near the Peace Bridge for Sunday will be communicated by the New York State Thruway Authority commencing at 6:00 a.m., Sunday, December 20.

In late 2014, Canadian Niagara Power Inc. (“CNPI”) announced plans for the removal and replacement of the International Power Line (“IPL”) located to the north and parallel to the Peace Bridge.  The work is being done in three stages: Stage 1, involved the removal of the cables from the two existing steel towers; Stage 2, resulted in the dismantling and removal of the two steel towers located on Queen Street in Fort Erie, Ontario and the Buffalo High Tower, in Buffalo, NY; and Stage 3, will see CNPI undertake the rebuilding of the line.

Stages 1 and 2 of the project were completed in late 2014.   The final stage of CNPI’s IPL project is expected to wrap up by the end of 2015, taking to the air to string new electrical lines between Fort Erie and Buffalo.  This weekend, crews will employ a helicopter to stretch ropes between the new towers on either side of the Niagara River, with the ropes then being used to pull the wire from tower to tower.

As a safety precaution, traffic on interstate 190 near the Peace Bridge will be interrupted  on Sunday as updated by the New York State Thruway Authority. In addition, in Fort Erie, traffic on the Niagara Parkway, at the base of Queen Street will interrupted intermittently as required while work is being performed.

The wires connect CNPI's transmission system at the base of Queen Street in Fort Erie to National Grid’s transmission system at its Terminal House B on Busti Avenue, in Buffalo, New York.  The re-energizing of the wires between the two transmission systems will then follow.

Project Description

Canadian Niagara Power Inc. ("CNP") proposes to replace two existing lattice steel towers (Queen Street Tower in Canada and the Buffalo High Tower in the U.S.) with new tubular steel poles, and reconductor approximately 1178 metres (0.7 miles) of the existing international power line (“International Power Line” or “IPL”). This is collectively referred to as the IPL Rebuild Project. The transmission line is located downstream and parallel to the Peace Bridge crossing the Niagara River between Fort Erie, Ontario and Buffalo, NY. National Grid owns and operates the portion of the transmission line from the international boundary of the Niagara River to its Buffalo High Tower at Terminal House B in Buffalo. CNP proposes to replace the existing double circuit 115 kilovolt (“kV”) IPL with a single circuit 115 kV line. The existing Queen Street Tower is 67.1 metres (220 feet) high and the Buffalo High Tower is 45. 7 metres (150 feet) high and will be replaced with structures 77.7 metres (255 feet) and 59.4 metres (195 feet) in height respectively. Engineering services for the IPL Rebuild Project are being provided by TRC Engineers, and environmental services are being provided by AMEC.

The purpose of the IPL Rebuild Project is to continue to provide a safe and reliable 115 kV connection of the CNP Fort Erie, ON transmission system to the National Grid Buffalo, NY transmission system, which is interconnected through this International Power Line. The IPL has been in place since 1916. The IPL was deenergized in 2011 based on an engineering inspection and analysis of the Queen Street Tower. Despite regular maintenance, the transmission towers and lines are at the end of their useful lives, and the IPL requires replacement. The condition of the towers requires that they be taken down for safety reasons. CNP has applied to the National Energy Board (“NEB”) for approval of the IPL Rebuild Project.

The IPL Rebuild Project will be completed in two (2) phases which are described in more detail below:

Phase I

  1. Remove all existing conductors from the existing steel lattice towers.
    • A number of options were reviewed to determine the safest and preferred methodology to remove the existing cables given that the wires cross Highway I-190, the rail road in New York, and the international Niagara River. An implosion cutting technique was chosen as it is the safest for all workers and the public, and the most controlled methodology as it minimizes any human contact when the cables are being removed. The scheduled date for the first phase of the project is the morning of November 8, 2014.
    • Most of the energy from the implosion cutting technique is in a low frequency range. The peak sound pressure level measurements from an implosive cable cut at 61 metres (200 feet) is in the range 117-122 decibels (“dB”). For reference, a nearby thunderclap or a firework may reach a sound level of around 120 dB, and a jet creates a sound level of around 120 dB at 61 metres (200 feet).
    • In Fort Erie, the implosion sound can be compared in terms of noise levels to the cannon going off at the Old Fort Erie, which is a regular occurrence. There are a number of businesses and residents in the surrounding area, and CNP is not aware of negative responses related to the noise levels associated with the cannon.
    • A preliminary noise assessment was conducted by an acoustics expert from AMEC during a demonstration of the technique in May 2014. It determined that a peak sound pressure level at 90 meters (295 feet) with a single implosive charge was 114 dB, and six implosive charges was 122 dB.
    • The cables will be cut near the tower in New York.
    • Protection from falling cables will be provided to the riverbank, highway and railroad.
    • The river has a solid rock bed that has been scoured clean by the current. Cables in the water are not expected to cause any adverse environmental effects to the river bottom.
    • Cables will be retrieved from the Canadian riverbank.
    • The entire process is scheduled for 4 hours.
  2. Remove the two existing structures, the Queen Street Tower and the Buffalo High Tower. The towers will be disassembled from the top down utilizing cranes. As pieces are removed, they will be loaded onto trucks, where they will be transported to a licensed recycling facility. The existing concrete pad and foundations will be removed to two feet below the surface, and backfilled with soil.

Phase II

New foundations will be installed within the footprint of the existing structures. Replacement structures with three new tubular steel poles will be erected at each location. New conductors and overhead ground wires will then be installed. The visual landscape will be slightly altered as the tower base will decrease in width from 24 metres (79 feet) to 12.2 metres (40 feet), the new wires will be slightly more visible, and the tower height will increase. However, the overall impacts will improve as the old steel lattice towers will be replaced.

Replacement of the line is necessary to restore electrical reliability to the CNP transmission system in Fort Erie and to restore the structural integrity to the facilities being replaced.

  • Removal and replacement of the IPL will provide and alternate source of power to CNP during planned and unplanned outages on its system. IPL will operate as an alternate power source only.
  • Outages to the CNP transmission system impact the Buffalo-Fort Erie Bridge Authority (operates the Peace Bridge). This affects transportation, immigration, border security, and policing associated with the bridge. Car and truck traffic is delayed giving rise to increased direct costs and traffic back-ups on the bridge.

No adverse environmental effects are anticipated to result from this proposed project.

  • An environmental assessment prepared in support of the permitting process concluded that there are no environmental impact anticipated to result from the project.
  • No additional right-of way is necessary.
  • The cable and towers will be removed immediately – no storage along the river necessary.

Consultation with stakeholders and permitting for the project is ongoing.

Project Schedule

TaskTime Frame
Final PermittingOngoing
Demolition and Removal of ConductorsNovember 8, 2014
Alternate Demolition and Removal of ConductorsNovember 9, 2014
Removal of Lattice Steel Towers    November - December 2014
Construct New Facilities    August - October 2015
In-service    October 31, 2015

The proposed schedule has been confirmed by O’Connell Electric Company Inc. and is subject to variation based on weather or unforeseen conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers ("Q&A")

Canadian Niagara Power Inc. International Power Line Removal and Replacement Project