On behalf of TC Energy and the proposed Pumped Storage Project, I’m writing in response to the editorial written by Mr. Stephen Vance that was published on January 30, 2020.
We paid close attention to Mr. Vance’s editorial this week. As the editor, we expect the views expressed by Mr. Vance reflect prevailing community opinions. His assessment of our efforts to introduce a proposed pumped storage project to the community is important feedback. We agree that we have a lot of work to do to communicate the purpose and opportunity our proposed project presents to Meaford. More importantly, we need to ensure we are addressing all community concerns.
Early community engagement, active participation and community support for this proposal is vital. It is not just checking a box. We recently held three introductory community open houses in Meaford. Over 700 residents attended these events and we received over 100 questions that have now been answered and are available on our project website. The feedback we received at these open houses will help shape the assessments and studies we plan to undertake as we move forward. We are in the early days of studying and developing this proposal and input throughout this process is important to ensure that if the project is developed, it addresses the interests and concerns of the community.
Mr. Vance and the community are seeking detailed answers to valid concerns that have arisen at this early stage in project design. We appreciate the frustration that occurs when we are unable to answer these questions with complete information. While we are at the early stages of studying this important project, it is our view that being transparent and incorporating community feedback early in the design process is important in building trust and ensuring community concerns are addressed as opposed to completing a design in isolation of the community. The downside of this early approach is that we do not have all the answers. We simply will not have the answers until the site work, environmental studies and engineering design is completed.
Amongst the many requests coming from the community that Mr. Vance echoes, is the request to build a closed loop system so that there is no risk of any negative impact on the surrounding environment and ecology. We have committed to look at this configuration amongst others, but it is important to know that a closed loop system would likely entail a larger footprint, greater potential environmental and ecological loss, and potentially lesser climate change benefits. Our approach has always been to cast the widest net of solutions and assess them to arrive at the optimal solution to meet the environmental and technical constraints. We are committed to sharing this analysis with the community when it is complete. Let us take the time to get it right.
We appreciate that as editor Mr. Vance has a huge responsibility to communicate the community’s views and we are glad he did. As project manager, I know I have a huge responsibility to make sure the extraordinary opportunity this project could present to Meaford is accurately communicated to its citizens and to respectfully listen to community concerns. I am committed to do that.
John Mikkelsen, TC Energy