Letter to the Editor
I would like to thank Meaford resident Caryn Colman for sharing her open letter to Alex Ruff, MP, which appeared in the October 9, 2020 edition of your paper, regarding TC Energy’s proposed Pumped Hydro Storage Project. Caryn suggests that we need to change our relationship with energy, at home and at work through conservation. She is right, conservation needs to play a role in energy management and planning, and it does, but so does energy storage if we plan to shift to a greener energy future.
According to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) – the body that manages the province’s power system, plans for our future energy needs, promotes energy conservation, and oversees Ontario’s electricity markets – “energy demand is expected to grow between 0.4% and 1.4% [annually for the next 20 years and]… As demand continues to grow, more contracts expire, and Pickering retires [in just a few years’ time], additional market-based approaches will be needed. New resources that require large capital commitments and long development timelines, such as large hydroelectric facilities, require different solutions.”
TC Energy’s proposed Pumped Hydro Storage Project is one such solution and, we believe, its technology represents the most proven, economical and environmentally responsible solution currently available to address Ontario’s growing electricity demands.
The majority of baseload power – the minimum amount of electric power needed to be supplied to the electrical grid at any given time – is provided by clean, low-cost nuclear generation. However, this kind of power cannot be turned on and off either easily or quickly. Large-scale pumped hydro storage, on the other hand, allows us to capture some of the electricity that our system currently overproduces and wastes at night, as Caryn rightly points out, and allows us to redeploy it during the day, offsetting the need to run our fossil-fueled power generation facilities.
Pumped storage uses water and gravity to store and generate electricity. Think of it as a natural battery, ready to respond to various power demands. At night, when clean electricity like wind and nuclear electricity is in excess, pumped storage would withdraw water from Georgian Bay, temporarily store it in a newly constructed upper reservoir, and later return the water back to Georgian Bay.
When demand for electricity is high, the water is released down through the same pipes to generate electricity for the grid. And that electricity is emission-free, making it better for our environment.
When the water is released, it spins turbines to produce electricity. This reduces the need for the gas-fired power generation that we are currently using, thereby resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions and providing clean, renewable electricity for all Ontarians.
For more information, I would encourage your readers to visit our website at www.tcenergy.com/pumpedstorage.
John Mikkelsen, P.Eng., M.A.Sc.
Director, Power Business Development