'Someone is panicking': LG Chem not considering Windsor-Essex

Invest WindsorEssex president and CEO Stephen MacKenzie wasn’t thrilled to hear LG Chem cancelled plans to visit Windsor-Essex County on May 3.

“The latest official word is that we were removed from consideration,” he said.

According to MacKenzie a $2.5 billion investment by LG Chem was derailed after the Ministry of Economic Development, Job creation and Trade, informed the company there was no guarantee there would be enough power to supply the plant.

LG Chem had asked Invest WindsorEssex to schedule meetings last week with several local companies to discuss human resource issues, the talent pool and operating in a unionized environment. That meeting was dropped at the last minute.

“The companies were very disappointed and we're very disappointed,” said MacKenzie.

LG Chem requires up to 15 megawatts of power by 2024 to begin testing but hydro officials determined that much power won't be available in time.

“To be told that we couldn't guarantee 10 megawatts by 2024 and 25 by 2025 is certainly cause for alarm and we're going to have to do more investigation,” MacKenzie said.

The Essex County warden doesn’t think so.

“Someone is panicking a little bit.” said Gary McNamara. He points to the four power plants in the region as proof the energy is easily found. “Before I'm ready to throw in the towel which I'm not, there are solutions locally that can help us bridge that gap over that 12 month period until the 550 KVA line comes in.”

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens understands the power shortfall in the region but says plans are in motion to address the situation.

“We just had an announcement about a month ago where the minister of energy actually signed off on the Chatham to Lakeshore line,” he said. “That line through Hydro One is about a billion dollars’ worth of construction.”

MacKenzie says Windsor-Essex was attractive to the company because of the battery plant, announced earlier this year. In other countries, the LG Chem plant is situated very close to the LG battery plant which helps keep the supply chain efficient.

“We would have had a very good chance of getting it but the problem is we're not getting that chance now,” he said.

MacKenzie and his group at Invest WindsorEssex are working hard in the hopes of getting our region back on the table with LG Chem.

“At the end of the day we certainly don't wanna lose the opportunity for projects because of 10 to 25 megawatts of power,” McNamara said. “I mean come on.”