I would like to address Tom Buck’s letter, published in the June 24, 2021 edition of The Meaford Independent. He raises the issue of safety in relation to our proposed pumped hydro storage facility in Meaford, and there are some points I would like to clarify.
First of all, at TC Energy, we recognize that safety is an important issue for the citizens of Meaford when it comes to our proposed Pumped Storage Project. Mr. Buck, your readers and the citizens of Meaford and area have our commitment that the project will be designed to keep residents safe and that it will be built, maintained and operated safely for as long as it remains in service.
What we are proposing is not without precedent. There are over 15,000 dams in Canada and 121 large dams in Ontario. There are two pumped storage facilities with reservoirs in Niagara, one on the Canadian side and one on the American side, that have operated safely for decades. Canada and Ontario have a long and safe history with dam construction and operation. The majority of large dams in Canada were built as components of large hydroelectric projects. The term ‘hydro’ in Ontario is often synonymous with electricity; it’s how the province began generating electricity and today, electricity generated in hydro facilities represents about a quarter of all of the electricity we consume in this province.
With this in mind, let us offer the following assurances: the upper reservoir for the proposed project is a civil structure similar to a bridge or building that will be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in accordance with specific legislated and regulatory requirements in Ontario. Our facility will need to meet or exceed all applicable standards and regulations, including seismic considerations, to ensure safety before the project is approved for construction.
In developing the Pumped Storage Project, we will engage qualified and experienced engineers to design the facility and we will similarly construct the facility with contractors who have experience building hydro facilities.
Further, as part of our commitment to ongoing community engagement, we will work with the community—including Save Georgian Bay—to develop and implement a Project Safety Plan that will include the development of a panel of Canadian engineering and safety experts available to residents and community groups to address important safety-related questions and concerns.
Pumped hydro storage is the most environmentally responsible and economic energy storage solution available. For the same reasons as Ontario, pumped storage is used globally to incorporate unpredictable sustainable energy sources, like wind and solar, into the electricity grid, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and reduce the carbon footprint. In fact, pumped storage:
- Accounts for over 95% of all energy storage worldwide
- Generates 158,000 MW in electricity around the world
- Includes more than 100 projects announced, planned or constructed worldwide (2017)
- Will add 78,000 MW in clean energy storage capacity by 2030
TC Energy is committed to designing, building, operating, and maintaining a state-of-the-art safe reservoir. Our goal is to prove that safety is our number one value at TC Energy and that we care about the safety of all Meaford residents, their families and their homes.
John Mikkelsen, P.Eng., M.A.Sc.
Director, Power Business Development