To Mr. Vance,
In February, I wrote to you and the community asking for time and patience as we developed information about the pumped storage project we are proposing to construct on the Meaford Tank Range. Over the past year we have heard from the community and this input has helped shape how we’ve advanced and studied this proposal.
The feedback we have received has been clear. Protection of the environment, the local economy and way of life in Meaford are of utmost importance to its citizens.
The project team recently released a Regional Economic Study conducted by an independent consultant which shows the project would have meaningful economic benefits regionally, provincially, and nationally. It estimates that over the four-year construction period, the project would employ 1,000 people and inject more than $750 million directly into the region. It considers the potential effects of the project during construction and operation and recommends a set of actions for TC Energy that we intend to address. The full report is available on the project website.
As we completed elements of our feasibility work, progressed engineering studies, and most importantly assessed the feedback we received from the public, we recognized that our original design concept for the project needed to change. While there is still a substantial level of confirmatory work to be done, we are now proposing a new design concept that responds to many of the concerns identified by the community.
A key change in the revised design is that the power house has been moved away from the shoreline and would be buried in a cavern. With the major components deep underground, noise output from the pumping and generating equipment during operations would be imperceptible. With these changes, the visibility of the project facilities from off the base, and particularly from the water, has been substantially reduced.
The other key change is that the water intake has also been moved away from the shoreline. The new design will use tunnels installed beneath the lake-bed to access deep water, avoiding sensitive near-shore habitat. While field surveys are needed to confirm local conditions, available data indicates the anticipated location is not near sensitive fish habitat. The design of the inlet/outlet structures will include screens and lower velocities of water withdrawn and discharged to further protect fish that may be present. The screened intake structures would be raised off the lakebed to avoid bottom dwelling aquatic organisms, reducing the potential impacts on fish and reducing the potential to create turbidity. The results are no shoreline or near shore structures, limited in-water infrastructure, protection of fish and fish habitat, and avoidance of lake turbidity.
This project is one of the largest climate change initiatives being developed in Canada. It is truly state of the art design, incorporating the latest and best technologies to produce an environmentally responsible energy solution for Ontario. We are grateful to the community for providing thoughtful feedback, which contributed to the innovative solutions we want to implement in this new design, and are encouraged that many of the concerns raised about the project have been addressed.
Preliminary details surrounding our new design will be available on our website over the next few weeks and emailed to those who have subscribed to project updates. We are planning engagement sessions in the coming months to describe our new design concept and to provide an opportunity for the community to ask questions and provide further input as we refine our plans. More information on these events will also be posted online: www.tcenergy.com/pumpedstorage.
We trust and hope that you have remained safe and healthy through this difficult period. We think the proposed pump storage project presents an opportunity for economic recovery and a strong future for Meaford. We hope you do too.
John Mikkelsen, P.Eng., M.A.Sc.
Director, Power Business Development