Friday, July 12, 2024

Full House For TC Energy Public Meeting

Stephen Vance, Staff

Winter squalls did not discourage Meaford residents from making their way to the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre on Wednesday evening (December 11) for TC Energy’s first public engagement session regarding their proposed electric pumped storage facility on Meaford’s Tank Range.

The community centre was filled to capacity with many more patiently waiting outside the doors for opportunities to enter as people left the facility.

TC Energy’s Director of Power Business Development, John Mikkelsen told the audience that his company is undertaking a feasibility study in order to determine if their proposed project would be possible and practical. He noted that many of the questions on the minds of residents can not yet be answered as they are some of the very questions the feasibility study aims to answer.

Mikkelsen explained that if built, the facility would store 1,000 megawatts of energy, enough to power one million homes for eight hours. He suggested that the facility would become ‘Ontario’s battery’ that could be used to feed Ontario’s grid when demand is high. He also claimed that the project would result in lower CO2 emmissions that would be equivalent to removing 150,000 vehicles from our roads. Mikkelsen noted that this type of pumped storage is currently used globally to store some 160,000 megawatts of energy, representing 99 percent of all bulk electrical energy storage on the planet.

If realized, the project is expected to cost in excess of $3.3 billion, and would employ as many as 800 people during the anticipated four year construction phase. Once up and running the facility is expected to employ roughly 15 workers.

This is a proposed project, we have not made any decisions at this point to proceed to subsequent steps,” Mikkelsen told the audience. “We’re doing a feasibility study, and the Department of National Defence is doing their own independent feasibility assessment.”

In order ask questions, those who attended the meeting were asked to write their questions on cards, and some of those cards were read and answered during the meeting, however the facilitators of the meeting promised that all questions and answers would be published on the company’s website.

Among the top concerns expressed by residents were the potential impact on the ecosystem in the bay, the potential noise from the facility, as well as the possibility of lowered property values for those who live near the site of the proposed facility.

Residents also reminded TC Energy that the land in question was expropriated from Meaford property owners in 1942 as a war measure in order to build a tank range on the land, and some questioned the idea of some of that land being used for a profit making venture.

Two more public meetings are scheduled for January 16 and 23, at the Community Centre. The content will be identical to that of the December 11 meeting. All questions asked and answers provided will be published on TC Energy’s website (www.tcenergy.com/pumpedstorage), including video of the meeting.

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