Friday, July 12, 2024

TCE Response to Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor


On behalf of TC Energy and the proposed Pumped Storage Project, I’m writing in response to Mr. Stephen Carr’s letter to the Editor published on June 19, 2020.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Mr. Carr for his continued interest in the project, our team would be happy to review his report and discuss the findings with him. Community feedback has been integral in the development of this project and we welcome input that can help improve the project. It’s important to note, the decision made by Council is to support advancing further environmental studies, that is all. That process is designed to answer many of the questions and concerns that Mr. Carr has about the project and the project cannot proceed before this work is completed.

Ontario manages surplus baseload generation by either exporting this zero-carbon energy at a discounted price or curtailing (wasting) the generation. In 2019, Ontario curtailed 2.9 million megawatt hours[1] – that’s electricity that Ontario ratepayers paid for and wasted because it could not be used by Ontario or exported to other markets. This project, if developed, would reduce Ontario’s future surplus baseload generation by a third, resulting in a global emission benefit regardless of where that energy ends up.

Ontario’s low-price electricity exports tend to take place at night when demand is low, and at a time when neighbouring markets are also using low-emission electricity resources – so zero-carbon energy exports from Ontario would not necessarily offset coal generation south of the border. Further, the generation fleets in adjacent markets are rapidly decarbonizing, with New York eliminating coal-fired capacity after 2020 and the majority of Michigan’s current coal fleet is slated for retirement by around the time the pumped storage plant would come into service.

Pumped storage captures and stores clean excess electricity that we have already paid for – this is the core purpose of this facility. The electricity stored by our proposed project is excess electricity that would otherwise be wasted or exported. As a result, we are turning a 100 percent loss into a 75 per cent gain for the benefit of Ontario consumers and the environment.

Emissions associated with building the facility will be quantified as part of the federal and provincial environmental assessments, including GHG emissions, and will be shared with the community. Our expectation is that the total GHG emissions from the production of materials, construction and transportation associated with the project would represent less than one year’s reductions from the operation of the facility, which is consistent with the order of magnitude that Mr. Carr has calculated. An estimate of the GHG reductions associated with the operation of the project has been provided though an independent report completed by Navigant in January[2].

With his engineering involvement with some of the world’s largest hydro dam and water storage construction projects, Mr. Carr would be well aware of the rigorous environmental, social and economic assessments that would be required before construction of an infrastructure project such as this could commence. It would entail a thorough assessment of alternative technologies as well as alternative locations, of the costs and the benefits of the project, demonstration that TC Energy is using the most effective means and methods, took all reasonable steps to minimize impacts and listened to the concerns of residents and communities. We look forward to discussing the project with Mr. Carr and talking about his experience.

Recently, based on community feedback and on-site feasibility work, TC Energy has developed innovative technical solutions to protect the local environment and significantly reduce the visibility of the facility. Details of the redesign are available on our project website and we look forward to sharing more information with the community in the coming weeks.

Studies continue to show that this facility provides an economically sound and environmentally responsible method for reducing Ontarians carbon footprint, while allowing Ontario to maximize the value of its electricity system.

[1] Figure 6-1 – MWh Curtailments versus Ontario Demand, page 33 of IESO Reliability Outlook JANUARY 2020 TO DECEMBER 2024



Clark Little

Community Liaison, TC Energy

[1] Figure 6-1 – MWh Curtailments versus Ontario Demand, page 33 of IESO Reliability Outlook JANUARY 2020 TO DECEMBER 2024


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