In advance of the June 1st Councillor’s review of this project, I had shared with several councillors and the Mayor a 4-page technical/financial/environment assessment with regard to the Pumped Storage Proposal. In this report, I identified several very significant downfalls and omitted matters with the TC Energy proposal and their supporting narratives. Given these technical and environmental revelations, it would be impossible for any key decision maker to reasonably advocate for proceeding with construction of this pumped storage facility. At the conclusion of this report, I confirmed my 20-year engineering involvement with some of the world’s largest hydro dam and water storage construction projects.
I am disappointed that the only councillor who touched on a significant rebuttal to the TC Energy proposal was Mr. Kentner. There are 4 very key arguments against the approval of this project which must be conspicuously showcased for the public and for government decision makers to consider:
Ontario’s low peak, surplus electricity (generated by hydro-electric and nuclear) currently being sold at low cost or just given to American utilities south of Ontario, is being used there to reduce the consumption of coal in their coal-fired generation plants. All utilities in neighbouring states have varying dependencies on coal in their respective jurisdictions. Our surplus electricity is therefore already reducing the discharge of CO2 and SO3 (acid rain causing gas) into our shared atmosphere.
Pumped energy storage is about 70% efficient, meaning there will be a loss of over 400 megawatts of electrical energy every day that enters the environment as waste heat. In perspective, this wasted energy would be sufficient to power over 400,000 homes. TC Energy is knowingly proposing to create this waste so it can sell the 70% of energy pumped storage does capture to Ontario consumers at higher prices than to American consumers.
Given my experience in dam building projects, I have estimated the construction of this project will introduce about 300,000 tons of CO2 into our atmosphere from the diesel fuel required to power the earth moving equipment and CO2 created by required cement production.
Given TC Energy’s apparent objective to not sell off-peak electricity at low cost to our U.S. neighbours and to “store” that electricity here in Ontario so it can be sold to us during high peak demand periods, there is a far more efficient and less invasive technology available today to achieve that objective. The 3.3 billion dollars earmarked for this project would enable the installation of battery storage devices in one million Ontario homes. This would provide TC Energy the 1,000 megawatt market they require at off-peak periods they claim would be derived from pumping Georgian Bay water to the top of the Niagara Escarpment. It would not require the creation of a high voltage transmission corridor from Meaford to Barrie (or no other changes to Ontario’s distribution grid), and it would allow homeowners to have emergency back-up power in their homes in times of power failures during stormy weather. Home charging/storage systems can have a 100% energy capture efficiency during our 8-month heating season.
In the June 4th Meaford Independent edition, a Mr. Clark Little of TC Energy is quoted saying, “This is a world class clean energy project, using cutting edge technology.” This claim is preposterous and irresponsible. If it wasn’t demanding 3.3 billion dollars of eventual public money to permanently scar the Georgian Bay shoreline, Little’s statement would be laughable.
Pumped storage concept and technology is at least 100 years old. There is nothing “clean and cutting edge” about it. We have highly efficient energy capture technology at our fingertips today that precludes consideration of a project that yields a 70 % return from clean energy employed, creates 300,000 tons of CO2 in its construction and butchers what we are told is a “world biosphere” in Georgian Bay. TC Energy knows this.
It is ludicrous we should be even considering this antiquated and inefficient technology. It is astonishing it has progressed this far, whereby TC has hoodwinked less technically informed people into agreeing to conduct an 'Environmental Assessment Approval Process'. One can’t help contemplating that TC Energy’s adamant pursuit of this outdated technology is driven by more than just 'pride of authorship'. What undisclosed financial arrangements are fueling this obsession with technology from a time prior to World War One? Before this proceeds any further, a formal inquisition needs to be initiated to examine and quantify alternate technologies.
By the time this project would be commissioned for start-up in 2027, energy storage technology will have advanced even further to the extent that electricity supplied from this facility will be considered worthless given the inherent inefficiencies of pumped energy storage. It will never be used.
Stephen Carr, Meaford