I have read Caley Doran’s letter to the editor last week (Thursday, July 2) and have had the opportunity to reflect on the concerns he has raised and the reasons why he feels he should be opposed to the proposed pumped storage project.
As is the case with many community members in the area, Caley has a passion for protection of the environment and that his connection to the land is very strong. I would like to assure him that we share many of his concerns and are very sensitive to events and circumstances of the past.
The proposed pumped storage project is an environmentally responsible solution to meeting Ontario’s future electricity needs. It will use water and gravity to store clean emission free electricity when it's available and redeploy it at times of need. Large scale energy storage will be key to ensuring the reliability of clean energy supplies to future generations. Pumped Storage is the technology of choice representing 95 per cent of energy storage capacity worldwide. It’s also the best environmental choice and why the vast majority of planned storage additions over the next decade will be pumped storage. In the case of Ontario, this project would take advantage of the clean electricity resources the province already has – wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear that is currently wasted or exported – to meet its future electricity needs, reduce emissions of CO2, and ratepayer costs.
We believe the current design of the project will address Caley’s concerns regarding impacts to fish habitats, ice flows, water currents, and foreign micro-organisms. But before this project can be constructed, rigorous and comprehensive environmental studies under the Impact Assessment Act need to be completed to prove it will not harm the environment, and to understand health, social, and economic impacts, as well as potential impacts on Aboriginal and treaty rights. This assessment process takes several years and includes many opportunities for community input. Once the assessments are complete, the Government determines if the project is in the public’s interest, before allowing it to be constructed.
We are very much aware of the ancestral use of the lands by Indigenous peoples that now comprise 4th Canadian Division Training Centre. We have been engaging for over a year with stakeholders and Indigenous groups to share information, to identify potential effects and concerns, and to discuss measures to avoid, mitigate or otherwise manage impacts. This includes holding community information sessions, including in both of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation communities. We are committed to ongoing engagement as this proposed pumped storage project advances and look forward to the participation of communities in the field studies and assessment process for the project.
The 4th Canadian Division Training Center occupies an area of over 18,000 acres. The project, should it proceed, would use about 3 per cent of the base; it would be respectful of Indigenous interests and history and be located and constructed to minimize impacts at the training base. Recognizing the importance of 4th Canadian Division Training Center in Canada’s defence establishment and as a major employer in the region, we are committed to developing this project such that the long-term viability of the base is retained.
This project is one of the largest climate change initiatives being developed in Canada. It incorporates state-of-the-art design and the latest technologies to produce 1,000 megawatts of flexible, clean energy to Ontario’s electricity system in an environmentally responsible manner.
Recently, based on community feedback and on-site feasibility work, TC Energy has developed innovative technical solutions to protect the local environment and significantly reduce the visibility of the facility. Again, the environmental protection assumptions made in the redesign will be vetted as part of the Impact Assessment. Details of the redesign are available on our project website: www.tcenergy.com/pumpedstorage and we plan to provide other opportunities for discussion in the near future.
Finally, I’d like to thank Caley for his letter and ask him to consider the positive aspects of this proposed project. I would encourage him to reach out to me directly if he would like to further discuss how we think this project is one he should support.
Project Manager and Director, TC Energy