Saturday, January 16, 2021

Reader: Pumped Storage Cannot be Honestly Defended

Letter to the Editor

Editor,

Ontario’s electrical energy consumers and taxpayers must demand transparency and honesty from TC Energy with regard to their continued pursuit of the installation of a pumped storage facility atop the Niagara Escarpment. TC Energy consistently falls short of this behaviour in its promotion and defence of this antiquated technology.

TC Energy’s John Mikkelsen, in his recent submission to a local newspaper, once again demonstrated his employer’s reluctance to be specific about Ontario’s current export of electricity, about the 300,000 or so tons of CO2 which will be dumped into the atmosphere from the diesel fuel required to create the Meaford reservoir and about the 400 or so megawatts of energy (waste heat) which will be knowingly dumped, unused, daily into our environment should this facility ever be commissioned due to the inefficiency of energy recovery from pumping water uphill.

For instance, Mr Mikkelsen’s response to claims Ontario’s exported electricity is offsetting coal consumption south of the border was, “this is not entirely correct”. “Entirely?” Either it is correct, or it’s not. I know for a fact that this is the case and it will be at least 20 years before coal generation is phased out south of the border. So just admit it Mr. Mikkelsen, rather than obscuring it. Ontario’s exported electricity is currently being used to reduce CO2 and SO3 emissions.

TC Energy knows how much diesel fuel has been budgeted to complete this 3.3 billion dollar project, but it won’t disclose or even mention it.

Mr. Mikkelsen indicates my estimation of achieving less than 70% energy recovery efficiency is not “substantiated”. I spent 20 years of my engineering career designing and building hydro-electric power plants. I am extremely familiar with energy efficiencies of turbines, impellers, motors, generators, transformers, and liquid flow through restricted access. My numbers are accurate. Mr. Mikkelsen knows this.

This deliberate attempt to elude facts when trying to “sell” the virtues of their proposal is very suspect.

I entirely understand TC Energy’s financial objective to not give away Ontario’s energy to our southern neighbours. I also appreciate the need to balance electrical energy output with fluctuations in daily demand, therefore requiring some form of energy storage. So why is a company like TC Energy so insistent in promoting a project which will create high levels of pollution to build, will permanently scar the Niagara Escarpment, will compromise Georgian Bay aquatic life and will waste over 400 megawatts daily (enough to power 400,000 homes)……….. while there is a technology available now that wastes no energy because it is 100% efficient*, provides TC Energy the off-peak market they seek for supplying surplus generation, does not require any construction and allows home owners to have emergency back up power during unexpected outages? Why? It’s because this company is attempting to create a monopoly with a captive market which has no choice but to use their inefficient regenerated electricity from pumped storage for an undisclosed period of time.

The installation of in-home rechargeable energy storage units I’m suggesting, allows the homeowner to choose from where they will source their electrical energy. That might be from OPG, from roof top solar panels, from windmills in rural settings or from some future supplier that might be efficiently generating low cost electrical energy from miniaturized nuclear technology, currently under development. This in-home storage technology transfers the control of the cost of energy away from TC Energy and on to the consumer. TC Energy doesn’t want to lose this control obviously.

Folks, we have every justification to reject the Pumped Storage facility which is being promoted as some “innovative reduction to climate change”. That is an absurd and non measureable claim. And don’t be deceived that the public will not be paying the 3.2 billion dollar price tag to capitalize this venture. This project has everything to do with keeping money out of your pocket and into theirs and nothing else.

Stephen Carr, Meaford

*in home energy storage devices have a 100% capture efficiency during our 8 month heating season.

Disclosure: I have no connection whatsoever with the manufacture or supply of energy storage devices. This commentary is strictly academic.

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