Editor,

This is the third occasion now I’ve felt compelled to respond to TC’s orchestrated 'green spin' on physics and economics. I do so for the benefit of the taxpayers and users of electrical energy who may be less familiar with power generation technologies.

Full disclosure this time; I am a retired electrical engineer. During the last 20 years of my career, I was principally involved with six of the world’s largest hydro-electric and water storage projects. I know this business.

TC’s 'spin' is initially conspicuous in their full page announcement in this newspaper where they claim we currently 'waste' electricity. For the record, it is impossible to 'waste' electricity. It must be utilized in a resistive load the moment it is generated. Having to sell surplus electrical energy at a lower cost to our neighbour to the south is not necessarily detrimental when one considers many U.S. jurisdictions still use coal to produce power and our clean energy would be mitigating their use of coal. (We all share the same atmosphere).

TC’s claim this pumped storage facility will effectively reduce the emissions from 150,000 cars omits the fact that in 8 to 10 years when this facility would be completed, Ontario motorists will have acquired far more than 150,000 electric vehicles independently.

There are other facts which have been omitted:

  • How about the millions of tons of CO2 which will enter our atmosphere from the millions of litres of diesel fuel required to power the equipment to affect the earthworks on this project?

  • How about the eight years worth of airborne dust particles that westerly prevailing winds will carry from the work site to the Towns of Meaford, Thornbury and Blue Mountain?

  • How about the millions of cubic meters of suspended silt which will enter Georgian Bay during and after the creation of this facility?

As I have previously noted, due to the 70% energy capture rate of pumped generation, this operation will dump 300 megawatts of non-utilized energy daily into our environment in the form of waste heat. This is energy we have created through significant capitalization of Ontario’s nuclear and hydro-electric facilities (enough to heat 20,000 homes) that TC plans to willfully discard, so that they can increase their revenues from electricity generated at low peak periods. We can be assured that if this project proceeds, gone will be the lower $/kilowatt-hour rates we see on our utility bills for off peak usage.

In the January 16th Independent issue, TC claims the closure of Pickering Nuclear will create a 3,000 MW shortfall of available electricity. The Meaford facility will not generate any make-up energy. Why isn’t this group pursuing the construction of new hydro-electric dams in Ontario’s massive untapped James Bay watershed?

TC’s claim they will “recoup” construction costs through “long term commercial arrangements with the Ontario Government” can be easily translated to “You taxpayers will ultimately be footing the bill”. As one of those taxpayers, I would remind you on projects of this scope, general contractors and major subs typically achieve 10 to 15% after-tax profits for their contractual fulfilments. That’s as much as $500 million of your money.

Bottom line here is that TC is orchestrating an 'accounting driven' justification/arrangement whereby Ontario ratepayers will eventually be paying for the losses associated with currently selling surplus off-peak electricity to other jurisdictions on the long term and also having us pay for the up-front creation of this energy-wasting facility at the peril of local residents.

It is incumbent upon all of us to support initiatives to reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. It is also incumbent upon us to ensure in doing so, that we achieve the greatest and sustainable CO2/$ invested return on our investment. This project will definitely not render this result. There are many far more cost-effective CO2-reducing measures we need to consider, given the $3.3 billion at risk here.

Again, I would urge all taxpayers and utility customers not to be deceived by the ]green spin' of TC’s narrative. I would also urge the DND to reject TC’s interests in their lands. We will all regret the long-term effects of this ill-conceived and irresponsible endeavour.

Stephen Carr, Meaford


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