Much has been written lately regarding TC Energy in your newspaper. The interest in the Ontario Pumped Storage Project by your readers is an important part of the engagement process and we welcome opinions and questions about the project as we develop the next stages of its development.
With respect to comments published on November 2, 2023, we have the following thoughts.
In his letter, Pete Russell cites his concerns regarding the CO2 emissions released during construction. Construction-related emissions will be an important component of the environmental impact assessment process that we intend to formally initiate in 2024. Our preliminary assessment, which is posted on our project website, is that the construction activities, assuming the entire four-year construction period, are expected to emit less than 500,000 tonnes of CO2 in total. However, once the project begins operating, it will eliminate 490,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, as it reduces Ontario’s reliance on natural gas fired generation. Replicate that performance for the next 50+ years and one can see that this is a major climate change solution. We acknowledge that CO2 emissions released during construction are not inconsequential and we are committed to minimizing those emissions, but if we look at the big picture, Ontario Pumped Storage presents a means to enable the province to transition to a zero-emissions energy grid, a grid that emits zero-CO2, and simultaneously helps Canada meet its climate change goals.
Secondly, in response to Anne Boody Horwood’s letter, I would like to add context and clarity to the information about the sanctions recently imposed by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). On September 15, 2023, the IESO, through its Market Assessment and Compliance Division (MACD), completed two investigations related to our former Halton Hills Generating Station – a facility that we constructed, owned, and began safely operating in 2010 until its subsequent sale in 2019. The MACD alleged breaches of the Market Rules and issued fines of approximately $3.72 million. As a company, we have denied any non-compliance and are currently engaged in the MACD’s formal dispute resolution process. Through this process, we have issued Notices of Dispute to the MACD with respect to these allegations. A role of the IESO is to govern electricity generators in Ontario. We fully agree with the processes that are in place to establish and ensure transparency, and while we no longer own or operate Halton Hills, accountability is important to us, and we continue to participate in the IESO’s dispute resolution process to settle this matter.
With every major project we undertake, there are always lessons to be learned – lessons that we assure you, are internalized across the company and applied to all of our future projects. Over the past few years in Meaford, we have been transparent about our proposed plans – asking for your feedback, listening to and answering your questions and even making changes to our design because of comments we heard from you.
With the community in mind, we have made commitments to how we will build this facility, and we have made commitments to the Municipality that we will carry our fair share. We have made commitments to ensure that Meaford receives long-lasting benefits throughout the development, construction, and operation of this project. To deliver on this commitment, we are beginning work with the Municipality to negotiate a Community Benefits Agreement that will provide at least $1.5 million annually to invest in initiatives that matter to Meaford.
Over the coming weeks, we anticipate a decision from the Ministry of Energy regarding the project’s next steps. We look forward to continued engagement with the community and hope you’ll continue to share your thoughts and feedback with us. If you have not attended one of our community coffee chat sessions, I would encourage you to do so – we host them every Thursday at our Sykes Street office and you can sign up at PoweredByMeaford.com.
John Mikkelsen, P.Eng. M.A.Sc.