- by Lynne Lundberg, OSHub

TC Energy, formerly TransCanada Corporation, is proposing to build a pumped hydro storage facility on Department of National Defence Property at the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre, Meaford. The key word is “proposing”.

An introduction to the TC Energy proposal was published in the Meaford Independent on September 12, 2019.

As a result, a local group has formed in Meaford called “Save Georgian Bay” and they would like TC Energy to save the money they plan to spend on a feasibility study and go away. Here are the particulars of the proposal.

Pumped hydro storage involves pumping water from a low reservoir, in this case Georgian Bay, to a higher reservoir. The water is then released back to Georgian Bay through a turbine to generate electricity. Energy is required to pump the water so it will be done at night when the electricity demand is lower and electricity will be generated during the day when it is most needed by the grid.

power storage how it works

On the TC Energy website they promise to reduce costs of electricity for Ontario Ratepayers by an estimated $250 million/year, representing billions in savings over the life of the facility, while increasing reliability and reducing future greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 65 per cent of the $3.3 billion investment is construction and some of that would go to local labour as well as goods and services such as food, accommodation, fuel, hardware, parts and gravel. 800 construction jobs would be created over four years and some operational jobs and supplier contracts would continue. It is also their policy to provide tools and resources to first responders, help fund educational programs and support important community needs.

In a letter to the Town of The Blue Mountains, Rob Chambers, Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure and Environment) Department of National Defence, confirmed that the Department of National Defence has provided TC Energy with a Priority Permit under the Dominion Water Powers Act effective May 21st, 2019. It gives them access to the site and the right to undertake feasibility studies in regard to the location of a proposed PSP (hydro electric pumped storage) facility on part of the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford.

TC Energy acknowledges that if they wish to proceed with the project, it will be subject to several regulatory approval processes, including an Environmental Assessment approval under the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and a federal Impact Assessment approval under the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. These studies may include, but are not limited to: a topographic survey, bathymetry survey, geotechnical survey, wildlife and wildlife habitat studies and vegetation and wetlands studies.So in a year’s time they may decide to go ahead with the project.

In the meantime, TC Energy needs to clarify just how this so-called green energy benefits Ontario Ratepayers. They will purchase energy at night when it is cheapest and sell the energy back to the grid during the day when it is more expensive. It takes 1000 megawatts of energy to produce 750 megawatts of energy using this method. The power is used for “load levelling” day to night but does not actually create new power for the grid.

The 1000 megawatts of energy purchased from the grid is not necessarily green. It may come from Bruce Power, a nuclear plant that the company owns 48% of or perhaps Halton Hills Natural Gas Power Generation that they own, or even Portlands Energy Natural Gas Power Generation which they own half of. Together these three facilities produce a large portion of Ontario’s power. Using energy that is not necessarily green to make less green energy only makes sense for TC Energy because they profit on the buying and the selling.

The Save Georgian Bay group and the Sunnyside Beach Cottagers Association who have homes and cottages in close proximity to the proposed site, have many concerns about the project. In addition to the facility itself becoming a scar on the beautiful landscape as you look across Georgian Bay from Meaford Harbour, a 1000 foot break wall structure must be built in the water, 800 feet from shore. This would be unsightly at best.

The area is home to waterfowl, and fish. Their habitat will not only be destroyed, but a similar plant at Ludington Michigan has killed millions of fish by sucking them up through the turbines where they are slashed and injured or killed. Then the carcasses are flushed back out into the bay to rot. Even a net across the area has not completely stopped the carnage in Michigan.

Area residents are also concerned about the amount of noise produced, electromagnetic fields impact on humans and animals, and the possibility of bright lights at the facility. Huge power lines capable of carrying 1000 megawatts of power from Meaford to Barrie need to be built. Residents along that corridor will be concerned when they learn about it.

When the upper reservoir is constructed and the penstocks (pipes to carry the water uphill) are buried, there will be extensive amounts of earth moved by large machinery which will impact the road to the base.
The following concerns and questions following will be passed on to the Department of National Defence and TC Energy and the answers will be reported when received. Email and postal addresses will be provided should any readers feel inclined to express their concerns as well.

1. Why are you not considering building an upper and lower reservoir instead of impacting Georgian Bay? There are many areas in Ontario where the required land height is available, away from communities and with transmission lines already in place.

2. Why are you choosing an area of outstanding natural beauty in a scenic tourist region instead of taking advantage of “brown field” locations such as disused mines like many recently proposed projects in the United States?

3. Where will the 800 workers come from? They may not be available in our area. Developers and home builders in Collingwood and the Town of The Blue Mountains are employing many local construction workers and bringing some in from larger centres. Where will they stay? We have tourist accommodations here which are needed for the visitors. This is listed as a benefit, but is it? Even if 100 of those jobs go to local people, dumping 700 workers in this area would be a disaster.

4. What is the lifespan of the PSP? What happens when it is no longer useful? Will you dismantle it and restore the landscape or leave it there as an eyesore?

5. Can you reassure local residents that there will be no fish killing, no habitat destruction, no light or noise, no electromagnetic health risks and no scar on the landscape?

Department of National Defence
Holly King, Section Head,
Directorate Real Property Services
Department of National Defence
60 Moodie Drive
Ottawa ON
K1A 0K2

email: [email protected]

TC Energy

Sara Beasley, Senior Advisor Public Affairs – Canada East
TC Energy
200 Bay St., 24th Floor, South Tower
Toronto ON
M5J 2J1

phone (416) 869-2123
email: [email protected]





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