Thursday, February 29, 2024

Reader: Many Questions Need Answering Regarding Pumped Storage

Editor,

Ford Government looks to Trudeau Government to Help Fund TCE’s Pumped Storage Scheme with Taxpayer Dollars

Many questions need answering about TC Energy’s (TCE) proposed pumped storage project on the Department of National Defence’s training base in Meaford. In particular, queries about the cost of the scheme and who is paying for it.

Costs have more than doubled from $2.2 billion in 2018 to $4.5 billion in just five years, and TCE recently agreed to cap the scheme at $7 billion!

Costs are clearly a concern to the Ford government.

In a January 9th letter to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the organization that plans and manages the province’s energy supplies, Energy Minister Todd Smith suggested that TCE seek federal government assistance to reduce the costs, adding he expects the provincial cabinet will want to see significant federal involvement in the cost sharing of the project’s pre-development expenses.

It’s pretty clear – both levels of government expect to fund to some extent, this inefficient and environmentally devastating behemoth with our tax dollars.

Why are overburdened taxpayers going to pay for any costs of this corporate giant’s project? TCE is the third-ranking energy company in Canada with a market capitalization (total value of company shares) of over $55 billion (Cdn)!

Why should taxpayers subsidize a corporation that buys cheap off-peak electricity to sell back to Ontario (taxpayers) as expensive electricity at peak rates​?

Why is a corporation being allowed to make profits on taxpayer-funded DND lands, and why has the proposal never been subject to public competition?

Other questions need answering as well.

Why is the energy minister not accepting the IESO’s assessment of the project?

For a second time, the organization concluded that the TCE scheme is not the best alternative to meet Ontario’s growing electricity needs.

In correspondence to the Minister in September 2023, the organization noted that the project does not compare favourably to other energy alternatives including battery storage or a number of other non-emitting resources, and “therefore is not able to provide net benefits to Ontario’s electricity system or ratepayers.”

Yet, once again, via his January letter, Minister Smith sent them back to the drawing board in what seems like an effort to rationalize the multi-billion scheme. He also instructed his ministry to work with TCE and other ministries to assess the broader societal and economic benefits of the project. Just how “independent” will this assessment be?

This project will cost us all and it threatens so much.

It threatens the lives and properties of more than 300 nearby homeowners, farmers and cottagers should the 375-acre reservoir leak or be breached. No one would be allowed to build a home below a dam. Why is TCE being allowed to build one above 300 homes?

It threatens the lives of at least 15 species at risk and millions of fish.

It threatens to disrupt, and potentially pollute local aquifers, wells and stream water flows.

It also threatens the vital tourism industry and the commercial and sport fishing sectors, essential to the economic prosperity of all Georgian Bay communities. These are just some of the reasons communities, organizations and people around Georgian Bay continue to voice their opposition.

The Council of the Township of Archipelago in Parry Sound District stated its “vehement” opposition in a November 2023 resolution, and in December, the Council of The Town of the Blue Mountains passed a motion giving support in principle to the Township’s resolution.

Grassroots organizations like the Meaford-based Save Georgian Bay group and the Georgian Bay Association, an umbrella group of 21 associations along the eastern and northern shores of the bay, have done numerous analyses of the costs and damages the project will incur. And, tens of thousands of individuals have signed petitions, made deputations, written letters and participated in town halls and events.

All share the view: It’s time to stop this scheme!

Respectfully,

Anne Boody Horwood, Meaford

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