Saturday, March 2, 2024

Reader’s Response to Recent Pumped Storage Letters

Dear Editor,

In response to Bruce Mason’s November 9th letter, I will attempt to address his questions and concerns.

Save Georgian Bay (SGB) is a volunteer group of local citizens that strongly supports sustainable energy and infrastructure projects. However, the group believes that an open-loop pumped storage system is inefficient, expensive and would cause significant and irreversible harm to the escarpment and Georgian Bay.

As most members of the group are well-educated and have extensive backgrounds in the fields of engineering, environment, industry, power generation, business, education, reporting, etc., I find Bruce’s suggestion of SGB being a conspiracy fringe group of incompetents with questionable statements both laughable and insulting. SGB expends much time and effort to assure information authenticity.

Pumped storage is currently prevalent worldwide for a simple reason. This established technology is about 100 years old and until recently, there were no new technologies available to compete with it. Pumped storage technology is virtually stagnant, whereas on the other hand, newer alternative energy storage technologies (such as batteries) are constantly developing. One example is the recent emergence of sodium solid-state batteries that have several advantages over lithium-ion battery technology.

If Mr. Mason wants an example of fish kills and turbidity, the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant (PSP) is a good example. It kills millions of fish each year and large volumes of turbid water are released. Although recent fish entrainment mitigation measures have been taken, it’s virtually impossible to prevent all fish entrainment without blocking the required high flow of water to the massive pumps and upper reservoir. As a result, massive fish kills still occur. Massive releases of turbid water comprised of silt and fish particulate from the Meaford PSP could affect fish spawning areas and water quality at the Meaford water treatment plant intake.

Historically, hundreds of catastrophic dam failures have occurred worldwide. Some recent major examples are: Taum Sauk Pump Storage Plant Dam, USA (2005), Vajont Dam, Italy (1963), Banqiao Dam (1975), Machchu II Dam, India (1979), Teton Dam, USA (1976), Cannon Creek Dam, USA (1995), Sayano-Shushenskaya Dam, Russia (2009), Testalinden Dam, Canada (2010), Brumadinho Dam, Brazil (2019), Derna Dams, Libya (2023).

Even well-designed dams/reservoirs can fail due to sudden environmental impacts, construction and stress flaws, human error, sabotage, age and conflicts.

In view of this history, the concept of building an enormous, above-grade pumped storage reservoir on an active military base with unexploded ordnance (UXO), and being directly above an area of hundreds of farms, residential houses, cottages and approximately 1,000 people, is illogical and potentially dangerous.

In response to John Mikkelsen’s November 9th letter, he stated that the proposed TCE Pumped Storage Project (PSP) will eliminate 490,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. This goal is admirable; however a battery energy storage facility having the same MWh capacity would achieve the same goal with much less footprint and environmental damage, and have no requirement for long transmission lines, if located on the generation site.

Regarding his response to Anne Boody’s excellent letter, it is clear that the investigation was concluded in 2023 as per these quotes from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) website Sanctions Section:

On September 15, 2023, the IESO, through its Market Assessment and Compliance Division (MACD), completed two investigations of TCE and found it breached these market rules, resulting in cumulative penalties of $3.72 million (and over $9 million in ineligible costs recovered).”

The IESO determined that TCE’s cost submissions were not true, correct and complete to the best of its knowledge, based upon the information available to it at the time of the cost submissions. The IESO further determined that TCE’s cost submissions were knowingly and recklessly misleading or deceptive.”

Mr. Mikkelson correctly stated that TCE sold the Halton Hills Generating Station in 2019; however, the IESO market rules breach occurred in 2015 while TCE still owned the generating station. This is per the following IESO statement excerpts:

On September 21, 2015, TCE made unusually large cost submissions. Prior to reimbursing such an amount, the IESO immediately reached out to TCE to confirm it was not in error. Having the amount of the cost submissions confirmed by TCE, the IESO reimbursed TCE’s claimed costs in accordance with the RT-GCG program rules in place at the time.”

Since 2000 (According to Violation Tracker, a U.S. data base on corporate non-compliance), TCE and its subsidiary companies have been fined more than $16 million for 52 different infractions by various U.S. government agencies, including environmental (46) competition (3) employment (1) and safety-related offences (2). This seems to support the argument that TCE has a dubious track record indeed.

In my view, the proposed TCE Pumped Storage Project seems to have some disturbing similarities to the Toronto Greenbelt fiasco.

I would encourage Bruce Mason and the whole Meaford community to take the time to independently research and verify information from multiple sources, and not rely solely on corporate ads, information sessions and community coffee chat sessions to form their opinions.

 

Respectfully,

Mike McTaggart, Meaford

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