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TC EnergyDear Editor and Readers,

Since first hearing about TransCanada Energy’s proposed Pumped Storage Project in September 2019, I have been following closely; maybe more so than others, as I live directly below the proposed reservoir location (approximately 900 meters away).

I will start off by saying this: I went to the TC Energy information meetings at the Community Centre, where I spent a total of 6 hours of one-on-one time with TC Energy Representatives; I have had email correspondence with representatives; I have had a 5 hour meeting with a TC Energy community liaison; I watched the virtual Council meeting, and partook in TC Energy’s virtual Zoom information session; I have corresponded with independent engineers and environmental impact assessors; I have met with MPP Bill Walker (associate Minister of Energy) and MP Alex Ruff regarding this project; I have joined a wonderful, knowledgeable and dedicated group called Save Georgian Bay. I have read articles, studies and reports. I have dedicated weeks to researching impacts of pumped storage projects (of which there are many). I have put the work in to understand this project and this company who may possibly become my neighbor, as best as I can.

While they are extremely important topics that do concern me, my letter today will not be discussing this projects impacts on fish, water turbidity, air and noise pollution during construction, emissions, or other environmental detriments, as I feel Stephen Carr, Bruce Rodgers, Jim Brunow and others have done a stupendous job in that regard. What I would like to discuss are the estimated Regional Economic Impacts, and TC Energy’s record of incidents and noncompliance.

Before I begin, I would like to spend a moment focusing on the term “Nimby”, as I’m sure that’s what some readers may be thinking! The term Nimby is not useful, especially when used in a pejorative way to dismiss the valid concerns of those opposed. If it is fair of someone to support the project because it does not negatively impact them, then it is only fair that those it does negatively impact are free to oppose without being labeled a nimby (or labeled anything, for that matter). As proven with Covid-19, it is important to have compassion for those who may be affected by something more than you are. I have valid concerns regarding this project, and some of them are because the proposed location is in my front yard – but please let the record show that I would not wish this project upon your yard either. I have opposed this company’s tactics and projects (expropriating South Dakota landowners for Keystone Pipeline) well before I knew they’d be in our neighbourhood, and I continue to oppose their tactics (noncompliant preconstruction clearing on Wet’suwet’en Territory without completing the necessary environmental fieldwork for 42 wetlands) to this day.

But, enough of the mushy stuff, as I know many residents in support of this project are not concerned by that. Let’s talk jobs. Through my many discussions with local residents in support of TC Energy’s Pumped Storage project, employment opportunity seems to be the biggest reason for support. Fair enough. As Stephen Vance mentioned in his piece Change Can Be Difficult to Embrace in a Small Town, but Sometimes it’s Necessary, Meaford’s economy is not what it once was, or what it could be. We all want our community to flourish and provide opportunities for our families. Being a life-long resident, I too want a healthy workforce. I, like many others, depend on the construction and transportation sectors for my household income. So, let’s take a closer look at TC Energy’s Regional Economic Study prepared by ERM Consultants Canada Ltd. As the report is over 30 pages, I will focus on the estimated “direct” and local employment opportunities during preconstruction and construction (2017-2027). I will save the rest of the report for another letter.

ERM Consultants estimates that during the “peak” preconstruction and construction periods, the project will require “up to” 141 workers within the “RSA”. Up to one-hundred-forty-one jobs sounds like a healthy influx, but what is the RSA? The RSA is the Regional Study Area. The Regional Study Area covers Bruce, Grey, and Simcoe Counties. Bruce County population: 66,491. Grey County population: 98,830. Simcoe County Population: 307,050. Total population included in RSA: 467,371. Total area of RSA: 13,433 square kilometers.

With a population pool that big, 141 jobs doesn’t sound as auspicious it did at face value. As for the 1,033 “direct” jobs touted in TC Energy’s Regional Economic Study, over 86% of those 1,033 direct jobs are estimated to be hired outside of the RSA, with 778 workers from other areas of Ontario, and 114 from the rest of Canada.

If you are thinking “Who cares where the jobs are or aren’t, as long as someone is benefiting, it will help the Canadian economy?” Then I would encourage you to apply that mindset with this project entirely: the inexpensive energy TC Energy will be storing and selling back to us for top price is currently energy that was sold to the US to offset their use of coal and gas. The environment doesn’t have boarders, economic reach does. Personally, I am okay with not saving a few dollars a year on electricity if it means less emissions are entering our shared atmosphere. (But I promised I wouldn’t talk to you about emissions).

Next, let’s take a look at where this information came from. The Regional Economic Study states “Using the expected Project inputs and the IOM – direct, indirect and induced expected Project outputs (benefits) were estimated.” The IOM relies on the Statistics Canada 2015 dataset, and the “Project Inputs and schedule” were “preliminary estimates provided by TC Energy in July 2019.” So when TC Energy cites their Independent Consultants Regional Economic Study touting these 141 direct jobs, they are citing their own estimates which they gave to ERM Consultants. This is why we need to apply a critical eye to the narrative that TC Energy is feeding us in ALL aspects of this project, not just what I’ve discussed here today.

To further my point: Navigant Consulting prepared TC Energy’s Economic Analysis of a Proposed Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project in Ontario study. Please read the following service description taken directly from Navigant. While reading below, perhaps replace “clients” with TC Energy to understand my point.

“Navigant Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:NCI) is a specialized, global professional services firm that helps clients take control of their future. Navigant’s professionals apply deep industry knowledge, substantive technical expertise, and an enterprising approach to help clients build, manage, and/or protect business interests. With a focus on markets and clients facing transformational change and significant regulatory or legal pressures, the firm primarily serves clients in the healthcare, energy, and financial services industries.”

In case I haven’t made my point clear, it’s that TC Energy’s independent consultant’s objective is to manage and protect TC Energy’s interests. To me, this hardly sounds independent, but that is just my opinion.

I would also like to take this opportunity to impart some research I’ve collected on TC Energy as a company itself. As most likely know, TC Energy was known as TransCanada Pipelines up until May 3, 2019. TC Energy projects include the notorious Keystone Pipeline, and Coastal GasLink. TC Energy has been in the pipeline business for 60+ years. That is a long time! And yet – even with 60+ years of experience, their pipelines continue to leak. Sixty years, and yet – despite going through the process many times – they continue to receive Government-ordered noncompliance orders. According to the Canada Energy Regulator (formerly National Energy Board, will refer to as CER going forward) TC Energy had reported over 222 incidents between 2008 and 2018 in Canada alone. This number is not inclusive of any incidents reported in the USA or Mexico. Why did these incidents happen? As per the CER: Engineering and planning, failure in communication, human factors, inadequate supervision, maintenance, natural or environmental forces, and tool and equipment failure. Some of these incidents resulted in events such as explosion, fire, gas release, liquid release, operation beyond design limits, and serious injury. Please know that this is not my opinion, but data available on Canada Energy Regulator’s website. A quick google search of “TransCanada noncompliance” will give you many further results and details.

With a record such as this, how are we to have confidence that they’ll get their first pumped storage project right? Will it be safe? Is safety guaranteed? Will they be compliant? “If you want to know the future, look at the past” – Albert Einstein.

To conclude, I am not against for-profit corporations. I am not against economic growth. I am not saying no to clean energy. I am against a misleading narrative. I am against greenwashing. I am against noncompliant corporations. I am saying no to a noncompliant corporation with well over 200 incidents on record holding 20 million cubic meters of water above my home for a greenwashed project, wouldn’t you?

Taylor Raffy




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