Monday, April 22, 2024

TC Energy: OPS is One of Canada’s Largest Climate Change Initiatives

Dear Editor,

Several thoughtful letters were published on February 29, and I thought it would be useful to provide some additional information for those interested. Critical thinking is important, and I am encouraged to see residents asking questions.

In his letter Mr. McTaggart challenges the forecast efficiency for the Ontario Pumped Storage Project (OPS) and wants to ensure we have considered transmission losses. To confirm, we have accounted for transmission losses in our planning and that the 1000-megawatt (MW) capacity and the 72% round-trip efficiency is inclusive of losses associated with getting to the connection point. OPS’s cycle efficiency, when excluding losses associated with the transmission line and station load, is estimated to be greater than 78%.

Losses to and from the connection point are only part of the story. What’s more relevant is what the introduction of a facility like OPS would have on the overall Ontario transmission system losses. Our engineering consultant has assessed this and at the time of their assessment, given the project location (which is closer than most generation to the load center), OPS was determined to provide net system benefits of 22.9 MW for Ontario’s transmission system during generation. Considering that OPS will be in operation when power demand exceeds supply in Ontario, the facility will improve the efficiency and peak capacity of Ontario’s transmission system.

Regarding Mr. McTaggart’s assumptions about the Tesla Megapak solution, we have looked at battery energy storage systems (BESS) for a number of years and expect the round-trip efficiency quoted (93.7%) fails to account for all electrical consumption associated with the operation of the battery, including but not limited to: 1) site-specific heating and cooling system loads required to operate the battery which run continuously not just when the BESS is dispatched; 2) site auxiliary loads; and 3) transmission losses. Further, it ignores potential degradation expected to occur over time.

Mr. McTaggart is correct that pumped hydro is geographically dependent and, on that point, Meaford is uniquely blessed with near ideal conditions for pumped storage. Coupled with the fact that OPS would be constructed behind the fence of a military base, and with a design that places facilities underground and underwater and offers state-of-the-art systems to protect fish and the aquatic environment of Georgian Bay, we think OPS is a compelling alternative to BESS.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to respond to Ms. Colman’s letter. First off, I want to commend Ms. Colman for taking part in the polar bear dip. I admire your conviction and share your passion to protect Georgian Bay. That’s why we have made every effort possible to protect the pristine environment of this beautiful place to make sure it remains that way for generations.

The biggest single threat to Georgian Bay is climate change. This winter marks the lowest ice cover on the Georgian Bay in recorded history. The implications of climate change are particularly amplified for those that live around the Bay – fluctuating water levels, severe and more frequent storms, flooding, wastewater and stormwater overflows and changes to habitat – these are all products of the changing environment.

OPS is one of Canada’s largest climate change initiatives – it’s an important tool to achieve a net-zero electrical system in Ontario. While it will not on its own reverse the damage or prevent further impacts to Georgian Bay, it is a concrete step toward a better future.

Kindest regards,

John Mikkelsen, TC Energy

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