Friday, July 12, 2024

Is the Leadership in the Georgian Bay Basin Intoxicated With the Promise Of Prosperity?

Dear Editor,

I’ve listened to arguments for and against TC Energy Pump Storage (PSP) for the past five years. Like other citizens in Meaford and the Georgian Bay Basin, I’m confused and rely on government representatives for leadership.

In the most recent development from the numerous deputations at various municipalities, our municipal leadership has demonstrated a surprising lack of knowledge about one of the most significant projects for the Georgian Bay basin mirrored by the citizen dwellers. In a democratic society, who informs all stakeholders of such a mega project? The developer, the media, the citizen’s group, or the politicians?

After Owen Sound Council gave conditional support to the TC Energy Pumped Storage project in Meaford, Rob Gowen of the Owen Sound Sun Times published an article on March 26, 2024, framing this project with the following inaccurate information:

  • Claiming TC Energy is “committed to hiring and buying local”, yet highly skilled jobs will likely be sourced globally.
  • Reporting 12.1 billion taxpayers’ benefits without mentioning IESO’s two Rejections, which are still under consideration as requested by the Ontario Minister of Energy to find justification.
  • Omitting Save Georgian Bay’s Environmental Assessment, which raises unanswered issues about the project.

Similar conditional support by other neighbouring municipalities that disregard the findings of IESO and jump to the official environmental assessment is the next step in the legislated government approval process.

In an article published by Scott Dunn on April 25, 2024, regarding ‘SON chiefs address upcoming decision on pumped storage project’, one of the chiefs, Greg Nadjiwon, reveals the SON’s position regarding the PSP. Greg says that the burden on the taxpayers is an “apple and orange” because the decision is whether PSP is better than burning cheaper coal for power generation. So, cost should not be a factor.

Greg uses coal power generation as an alternative technology responsible for acid rain, and it has been replaced and banned worldwide, making PSP appear far better when compared to coal power. Like the municipalities, the chiefs disregarded IESO and opted out by deferring their decision based on the official environmental assessment recommendations.

IESO, an official government agency responsible for approving Ontario’s power generation projects, has criticized the pumped storage proposals, suggesting that alternative solutions such as batteries and emissions-free generation projects like wind and solar would be cheaper to build but have similar results. Yet, the press, Indigenous leadership, municipal politicians and staff ignore IESO’s vital evaluation and recommendations. Both the chiefs and politicians are making the PSP a necessary evil project.

Is the leadership residing in the Georgian Bay basin intoxicated with the promise of prosperity and failed to learn from Pump Storage projects worldwide? Specifically, the operational Ludington Pumped Storage on Lake Michigan adversely affecting the environment or the Snowy 2.0 Pumped Storage in Australia facing many challenges that pushed the original $2 Billion budget to the current $12 Billion expected to be in operation by December 2028.

How many more Pump Storage Projects will we need to meet the ever-increasing electricity demand from cars and other fossil fuel-based systems and devices? Europe and Japan are making significant breakthroughs in developing practical nuclear fusion – the energy process that powers the stars. Why is our leadership not investing in a less invasive future technology with the potential of virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy?

I urge my fellow citizens to seek more information, participate in public discussions, and communicate with our representatives to ensure that our community’s future is not compromised.

Sincerely,

Lino Zita, Meaford

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