Following are some of the questions we received at our most recent Virtual Community Information Session on July 22. We are in the process of preparing and publishing answers for all of the questions and will post them here on a weekly basis until all the questions have been answered.
The cost to build and operate the project is expected to be recovered from Ontario’s electricity ratepayers. As a result of its ability to improve the operational effectiveness of Ontario’s electricity system, the project is expected to lower overall ratepayer costs. TC Energy commissioned an independent economic study, which demonstrated the project would lower electricity costs by approximately $250 million per year or $12 billion over its forty-year life. No decision has been made on the commercial structure by the provincial or federal governments at this time.
Licensing under the Dominion Water Power Act entails three stages:
At this point we hold a Priority Permit.
The facility is expected to be operational for 50 years. However, regular maintenance and refurbishment can significantly extend the operating life of pumped hydro storage facilities. The oldest operating pumped hydro storage facility is almost 100 years old.
TC Energy will source an analysis of the effects of workers on the local community as part of the extensive regulatory process. A comprehensive social and economic assessment will consider the potential for increased demand for community infrastructure, including medical and educational services. Studies will be made public and will be used to evaluate the potential effects of the project and identify opportunities to avoid or mitigate pressures on local services during construction and operation.
This facility would not use fuel in the generation of electricity — it would capture Ontario’s excess power that would otherwise be exported or wasted, store it and return it during times of high electricity demand. Through this process, it would reduce the costs of electricity for ratepayers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Instead of consuming hydrocarbons using natural gas generation to meet peak demand as the province currently does, this project would offset this need for gas peaking generation, reducing Ontario’s reliance on hydrocarbon fuels during high demand periods. The project would reduce an average of 490,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
The electricity required to move water into the reservoir during operation is expected to be the clean excess energy from the power grid generated during non-essential, low-demand periods. Most of this energy would come from existing wind, hydro or nuclear power generation.
In a study conducted by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, they noted that in 2016, Ontario exported 14.6 terawatt hours of clean electricity, enough to power approximately 1.5 million homes for an entire year, which cost Ontario’s power system $1.04 billion to produce. It was then sold to neighbouring jurisdictions, resulting in a financial loss ranging from $384 to $675 million. The proposed project would meaningfully reduce this loss.
TC Energy would build and operate the facility in compliance with Ontario’s Environmental Noise Guideline and in consideration of Health Canada Guidance for Evaluating Human Health Impacts in Environmental Assessment: Noise. Existing noise and vibration levels will be characterized and local potential points of reception (POR) will be identified. PORs are defined as sensitive land uses with human activity, including locations such as dwellings, campgrounds, schools, hospitals, community centres, places of worship, etc. PORs are evaluated using the baseline noise and vibration levels and will be determined by qualified technical specialists and a noise impact assessment will be conducted. The predicted noise and vibration levels during both construction and operations will be compared with relevant noise impact assessment criteria to determine noise and vibration impacts. Potential noise and vibration mitigation measures will be recommended where predicted impacts may occur.
We anticipate that the project would generate sound and vibrations while in operation but expect it would be limited to the immediate area of the proposed pumped storage facility within the restricted area of the military base. We anticipate that the primary source of operating sound and vibrations from the facility would be the rotating pump/turbine equipment and transformers. This equipment will be located deep below ground, and we would expect that audible sound and vibrations felt on the surface would be negligible. We will be required to meet provincial noise standards during operation, otherwise the project will not be approved by the Regulator. To ensure we are compliant with the noise regulations, site-specific studies and noise modelling will be a component of the environmental assessment process. The results of these studies will be available to all residents as part of this environmental assessment process. TC Energy will consider currently available, proven technologies and mitigating measures to effectively reduce, as much as possible, project sound and vibrations that might be emitted.
It is still early in feasibility planning and a determination of the most appropriate materials for the dike walls and lining have not been made at this time. The primary option that is being considered is a conventional zoned embankment with a watertight core protected on the upstream and downstream sides by rockfill, gravel filters and sand filters. It is anticipated that the finishing of the outer embankment of the reservoir will include topsoil and vegetation while the inner embankment of the reservoir will include rip rap (rock armour) to protect against scour and erosion from the fluctuating water levels. Alternative embankment designs are also being considered and evaluated, such as a concrete design, to determine the best solution for the specific conditions at the site. We will be conducting extensive geotechnical and geophysical studies to ensure the design accounts for local conditions. The expected height of the embankment being considered is 20 metres. All reservoir designs under consideration would entail excavation, deep into the underlying bedrock, to establish foundations that will ensure dam integrity and will follow best practices in Ontario and Canada, as well as worldwide large dam safety standards.
1 We are confident we can design, build, operate and maintain a safe reservoir. Our expectation is that the project, which will comply with all applicable standards and will be insured by TC Energy, should not impact the ability or costs for residents to obtain insurance. In the event that there are issues related to insuring properties, TC Energy would be happy to discuss our insurance coverage with the property owner and their insurance supplier.
1 This answer applies to other related questions, noted below.
Due to the nature of the proposed project, we expect both the provincial and federal assessment processes will apply, that the processes would be coordinated between the federal and provincial agencies, and that they would run concurrently.
The Impact Assessment Agency (under Environment and Climate Change Canada) will coordinate for the federal government and will seek support from various ministries and agencies, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Parks Canada (for archaeology and heritage), Transport Canada and others depending on the issues raised. The Environmental Assessment Branch under the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks will coordinate for the provincial process and will seek support from related provincial agencies such as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Conservation Authorities and others as needed.
The environmental impact assessment is an extensive study that considers potential environmental, health, social and economic impacts of proposed projects, as well as potential impacts on Indigenous treaty rights. The process includes the identification of potential negative impacts as well as potential benefits arising from a proposed project. The federal and provincial governments make separate decisions and determine whether a project is in the public’s interest.
Both groundwater and surface water quality and quantity, including conditions in Georgian Bay near the proposed project, will be studied using desktop and field studies to understand existing or “baseline” water quality properties. Baseline water quality data will be considered in relation to the proposed project design and will be used to assess the potential effects to water quality. Based on our current understanding of the proposed project, potential water quality effects could include: changes to temperature, changes in turbidity or water chemistry, and changes to water flow at the intake/outlet in Georgian Bay. As part of the environmental assessment process, a full list of potential effects to water quality will be defined and validated by the federal and provincial regulatory bodies, which must be addressed by TC Energy as part of the environmental assessment.
TC Energy understands the concerns that stakeholders might have with regards to the proposed project footprint and its potential construction impacts.
The design TC Energy is proposing has moved the majority of project infrastructure underground. By employing tunnelling and mining methods for the underground infrastructure, the natural landscape between the upper reservoir and Georgian Bay will be largely unaffected.
Within Georgian Bay itself, the ability to tunnel below the lakebed to the lower inlet/outlet structures will minimize direct disturbance of the lakebed. During installation of the lower inlet/outlet structures and the underwater transmission cables, barges with personnel and equipment would be situated within and around the location of these structures for the duration of the installation.
Our goal is to design and build the facility while minimizing the visual impact to the public. All of the project infrastructure, with the exception of the transmission lines, is within the Meaford base boundary and water exclusion zone.
Shade balls can be used to slow evaporation and have been used in drinking water reservoirs. Evaporation is not expected to be an issue as the plant is expected to cycle water daily. Therefore, we are not anticipating the use of shade balls at this time but remain open to the idea should it be beneficial.
It is anticipated the impact to Georgian Bay’s water level will be minimal. At this very preliminary design stage, the approximate reservoir volume is 0.023 km3 compared to an approximate full pool volume of 3,538 km3 for Lake Huron.
The 0.5mm level change is a high-level estimate based on the area of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. In comparison, natural water fluctuations due to water levels, tides and currents are much greater than this amount.
TC Energy, a publicly traded company, (formerly known as TransCanada) and its affiliates deliver the energy millions of people rely on every day to power their lives and fuel industry. Focused on what we do and how we do it, we are guided by core values of safety, responsibility, collaboration and integrity. Our more than 7,000 people are committed to sustainably developing and operating pipeline, power generation and energy storage facilities across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. TC Energy’s common shares trade on the Toronto (TSX) and New York (NYSE) stock exchanges under the symbol TRP. Visit TCEnergy.com to learn more.
TC Energy owns or has interests in 10 power generation facilities with combined capacity of approximately 6,000 megawatts (MW) – enough to power more than five million homes. Nearly half of the power we provide is generated from an emission-less nuclear power facility (through our 48.5 per cent ownership in the Bruce Nuclear Station) and we are leaders in the development and operation of high efficiency, natural gas-fired generating stations.
TC Energy operated 13 hydroelectric facilities (including stations, dams, and reservoirs) from 2004 to 2017 with a combined generating capacity of 584 MW on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers systems in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
For more than 65 years we’ve delivered on our commitment to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy in a safe and sustainable manner. Visit TCEnergy.com/Investors to learn more about TC Energy’s investment portfolio.
Our current understanding of all aspects of this project is that it is compelling and feasible with significant benefits through greenhouse gas reductions and cost savings to Ontario ratepayers.
As such, TC Energy is committed to pursuing the technical, environmental, regulatory and engagement processes to advance the responsible development of this Project.
We are in the process of exploring access for construction which is dependent on feasibility studies as well as further project design. Access roads on 7th Line and 9th Line are being reviewed, however 7th Line has a limited ability to support traffic as compared to other roads such as 9th Line. We are also looking to determine if there are further alternative roadways.
A number of factors will contribute to the volume of soil excavation including the design of the reservoir, the size and number of headraces, the size of the powerhouse as well as actual subsurface ground composition. Ideally, we will use all the material excavated on site for other construction related needs. Further information will be available following the completion of feasibility studies and engineering design.
We are evaluating a number of potential designs for the upper reservoir.
The post construction rendering presented at the community information sessions was based on current design assumptions and showed a dam that was approximately 20m above the current ground elevation.
A concrete reservoir that is approximately 20m high, above ground, is one potential option being considered, along with other embankment options that will be evaluated to determine the best solution to the specific conditions at the site. The height of the reservoir is approximately the same for all of the options.
Any reservoir option will be excavated relatively deeply into the underlying bedrock to establish foundations that will ensure dam integrity and follow best practices in Ontario and Canada, as well as worldwide large dam safety standards.
The project will be designed to operate in excess of 50+ years but, depending on the energy needs at that time and any needs for upgrades or refurbishment, the project life could be extended. At the end of the project’s life, it will be decommissioned in compliance with the regulations in effect at that time. TC Energy considers several factors when identifying facilities that may be decommissioned such as the ability to meet customer requirements, integrity of the facility and operating costs. All aspects of the life cycle of an energy facility – from design and construction to operation and decommissioning are regulated. When TC Energy plans to decommission a facility, we submit an application to the regulator that provides information on, amongst other things, safety, the environment, and stakeholder and Indigenous engagement. The decommissioning work only begins after we receive regulatory approval.
As the facility owner, TC Energy would be responsible for any costs associated with decommissioning.
The end state of the site after decommissioning will depend on the requirements of the regulator at the time and is expected to be informed by input from landowners, stakeholders and Indigenous groups based on current processes. It is anticipated that final decommissioning would include restoration of the site to an appropriate state compatible to the adjacent conditions. If the adjacent areas are forested and the land owner desired a similar final condition, the site would be prepared and planted so that it would support a comparable forest cover.
We do not expect the reservoir for this project to be a source of methane emissions or methyl mercury because we are proposing to build the artificial reservoir on land that will be prepared by removing vegetation and organic materials at the start of construction. Methane and methyl mercury are sometimes produced in reservoirs that contain vegetation, organic materials areas or have natural inflows from overland surface water that can transport organic materials and nutrients. The design of the project’s upper reservoir will avoid generation of these byproducts.
We are committed to managing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, focusing on our GHG intensity and continuing to integrate climate considerations into our overall business strategy, risk management and business development. In 2018, TC Energy’s direct GHG emissions were 13,500,000 tCO2e.
We believe our efforts and ongoing commitment to reduce the GHG intensity of our operations, combined with the substantial and continued investments we have made in lower-emission and emission-less energy, position us well to adapt to and thrive in a lower-carbon economy. Looking forward, the global demand for energy is expected to continue to grow and we are well-positioned to be a preferred partner in the safe, reliable and sustainable delivery of that energy for decades to come.
TC Energy’s 2018 Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Data Sheet is available here.
Emissions associated with building the facility would primarily come from the production of materials, construction and transportation, similar to any large civil project such as roadways, building of public transit lines, construction of municipal services, etc. As part of the federal and provincial environmental assessments, we will be quantifying estimated project related GHG emissions and assessing the results. That data and analysis will be included in the public regulatory filings for the project.
There will be no direct emissions associated with pumping the water from the lower to upper reservoir. Electricity is required to move water into the reservoir during operation. We plan to use clean (wind, hydro, nuclear) excess energy from the power grid during non-essential, low-demand periods. Currently this low-demand energy is typically exported at a loss or entirely wasted.
Navigant’s economic analysis shows that on average the project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 500,000 tonnes per year by displacing a substantial amount of gas generation. The facility would operate in peak hours using emission-free generation (including wind, hydro and nuclear) stored during off-peak hours. Even with the project, it is anticipated there will continue to be a need for gas-fired peak generation in periods of high demand until alternate options are developed.
The Navigant report can be found at TCEnergy.com/PumpedStorage.
Emissions associated with construction of the facility would primarily come from construction equipment and transportation, like any large civil project such as roadways, building of public transit lines, construction of municipal services, etc.
As part of the federal and provincial environmental assessments, we will be quantifying estimated project related air and GHG emissions and assessing the results. That data and analysis will be included in the public regulatory filings for the project. Air and GHG emission estimates associated with Project construction include the transport and use of materials. The emissions associated with creation or manufacturing of materials are already accounted for by those industries through their reporting obligations at a national level.
TC Energy will follow Ontario industry standards when procuring concrete for this project, similar to the procurement of concrete in any large civil project, as stated above.
Indigenous engagement on this proposed project aims to foster productive dialogue and exchange of information with Indigenous groups. Our goal is to identify issues and concerns related to potential project impacts on Indigenous or Treaty Rights or interests and to discuss measures to avoid, mitigate and manage these potential effects. Information shared through this process will contribute to the project design and environmental planning.
While the underlying principles remain the same, the scope and depth of engagement may vary according to the potential for project-related effects, the identified interests of each Indigenous group, and each group’s unique protocols and preferences for the gathering and sharing of information within their community. Indigenous groups may be provided with capacity support to enable direct engagement and collaboration with TC Energy.
TC Energy is committed to working with the Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) to establish a long term mutually beneficial partnership, including a potential commercial partnership for the project. As it is still early days for the project, no commercial agreement has been reached at this point, however TC Energy remains committed to discussing the project and our plans to advance its development with the SON.
Ensuring the Municipality of Meaford is meaningfully engaged and respected is critical to the advancement of the project. The strength of this relationship has a direct impact on our ability to build and operate this project. Building relationships with local communities helps us understand our potential impacts on the community, mitigate adverse effects and seek opportunities for economic participation and community investments. We are committed to working collaboratively with the Municipality of Meaford to ensure we contribute in a meaningful way. By engaging early with the host community and listening, we create project plans with better outcomes for everyone involved. It is our hope that we can build trust with the Municipality of Meaford to build a project that everyone in the community can support.
TC Energy seeks to build long-term relationships with Indigenous groups whose Rights or interests may potentially be affected by its activities. TC Energy is of the view that working directly with Indigenous groups through community investment, education, training, employment and contracting leads to long-term benefits for Indigenous groups.
The Saugeen Ojibway Nation communities have been approached about a commercial partnership for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, proximity of the project to Reserve lands, a current title claim and recognized commercial fishing rights. There is currently no commercial partnership in place.
Absolutely. We understand this project will have an impact on the Municipality of Meaford, and should it proceed, we are committed to working with the municipality to understand their concerns and to seek their input and ideas so that we can ensure the project is developed in a manner that is mutually beneficial. We will engage early, openly and frequently with the municipality throughout all stages of the proposed project, including providing ongoing opportunities to provide input into, and review the outcomes of, the various environmental and socio-economic studies and assessments that will be undertaken.
We have heard concerns from the community about the options for housing workers related to the project; we have not yet developed detailed plans for worker housing and as such the location and precise nature (temporary, permanent) of worker housing has yet to be determined. Numerous studies will be completed to gather site-specific information about the land, environment and communities within the vicinity of this proposed project. This includes a socio-economic effects assessment that will consider increased demand for housing and accommodation and the potential effects. We will continue to engage with communities and stakeholders with regards to accommodation options. The accommodation strategy will consider temporary housing and be developed in consultation with governments and service providers in key communities. These studies will be made public and will be used to evaluate the potential effects of the project and identify opportunities to avoid, or minimize, negative impacts during construction and operation.
Residents will share in the broader benefits of the project in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, lower electricity costs, and improved reliability of the electrical system. However, at a local level, the project is also expected to have a significant positive impact on local community economies during operation through the creation of skilled jobs, purchasing of local goods and services (e.g. equipment parts, fabrication, consulting, construction services, labour, materials such as gravel, etc.), and the associated indirect and induced financial benefits. As an example, in Napanee where TC Energy is constructing a 900 MW power facility, since 2015 the project has resulted in over approximately $300 million of local spending to date – most of this spend is related to labour and materials.
A socio-economic effects assessment will be completed that will provide more information regarding anticipated direct, indirect, and induced benefits of the project (i.e. employment, personal income, GDP, government tax revenue, etc.). This information will be made public and will be used along with the other studies to evaluate the potential effects of the project.
Once in operation, it is anticipated the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions. There will also be significant local contracting work to support operations and maintenance in addition to the direct operations roles.
TC Energy supports communities in which it operates and recognizes that the development of this project will have an impact on the Municipality of Meaford. We are committed to paying our fair share so that the project does not burden the Municipality or local residents. Over the coming months, we will be working with the Municipality to understand their interests and learn how we can ensure the project has a positive economic impact.
At this preliminary stage of the project, TC Energy has not committed funding to the building of a new school and/or library in Meaford. However, through our engagement, we will work to identify areas where we can contribute to strong, safe and vibrant communities through local partnerships and initiatives. TC Energy has a community investment program that provides valuable tools and resources to first responders, helps fund educational programs, supports important community needs and strengthens environmental stewardship and sustainability through local and regional investments. Investing in and giving back to the communities where we operate are important parts of being a good neighbour, a trusted partner and an employer of choice. Click here for more information about our Build Strong program.
TC Energy supports communities in which it operates and recognizes that the development of this project will have an impact on the Municipality of Meaford. We are committed to paying our fair share so that the project does not burden the Municipality or local residents. Over the coming months, we will be working with the Municipality to understand their interests and learn how we can ensure the project has a positive economic impact.
An assessment of the net economic impact of the development, construction and operation of the project will be undertaken as part of the environmental assessment required under provincial and federal regulations. The socio-economic effects assessment will provide more information regarding anticipated direct, indirect, and induced benefits of the project, including government tax revenue. This information will be made public and will be used along with the other studies to evaluate the potential effects of the project.
At TC Energy, safety is our top priority – of our employees, contractors and the public. We will undertake a comprehensive socio-economic effects assessment that will consider increased demand on community infrastructure, including medical and emergency services. Findings of the effects assessment will be used to identify opportunities for TC Energy to avoid or mitigate pressures on local services during construction and operation.
TC Energy is committed to covering costs of impacts on services and components of the local economy – for examples – roads, emergency and protective services, housing and accommodations, health, recreation and educational services during the development of the project.
Construction of project components such as the powerhouse and substation, and associated infrastructure will require a specialized workforce, material and equipment. We estimate construction would require approximately 800 skilled trades over a period of four years. Once in operation, the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions. There will also be significant local contracting work to support operations and maintenance in addition to the direct operations roles.
Studies will be completed to gather site-specific information about the communities within the vicinity of this proposed project. One of these studies is a comprehensive socio-economics effects assessment that considers local labour requirements and business supply base.
A socio-economics effects assessment will be completed and it considers labour requirements and increased demand for housing and accommodation and the potential effects.
Construction of the project will require specific subsets of workers and equipment, and some of these workers may be available locally. The project expects to source labour, goods and services from communities in Grey, Bruce and Simcoe Counties, including Indigenous communities, as well as from elsewhere in Ontario and beyond.
The project has not yet developed detailed plans for worker accommodations, but numerous studies will be completed that will consider increased demand for housing and accommodation and the potential effects. We will continue to engage with communities and stakeholders with regards to accommodation options. The accommodation strategy will be developed in consultation with governments and service providers in key communities that considers temporary housing.
TC Energy utilizes qualified and competitive companies and individuals to plan, build and operate our facilities. We believe in supporting local communities near our projects and provide opportunities through employment and contracts to local people and businesses. As such, we require our prime contractors to hire qualified, local subcontractors. These relationships are critical to the success of our projects and operations while benefiting local communities.
Construction of project components such as the powerhouse and substation will require specialized workforce, material and equipment and some of these workers may be available locally. The project expects to source labour, goods and services from communities in Grey, Bruce and Simcoe Counties, including Indigenous communities, as well as from elsewhere in Ontario and beyond.
In order to facilitate this local involvement, TC Energy and our contractors reach out to local businesses to understand local capacity and TC Energy maintains a list of local contractors our prime contractors may access to conduct work on our facilities. TC Energy includes expectations in contracts with prime contractors to hire qualified, local contractors and employees.
We are aware there is a lot of interest in this proposed project. We are also at the early stages of proposing this project and we have a lot of work ahead of us to properly communicate the purpose and opportunity this proposed project presents to Meaford, and the province. The preliminary feedback we have received to date will help shape the assessments and studies we plan to undertake and provide important guidance on the information that the community needs. We are listening to the feedback and are working hard to address the many valid concerns that have been raised.
The proposed site of the pumped storage facility is not located within the Niagara Escarpment. If an overland transmission line is selected as the means of connecting to the electrical system, a crossing of the escarpment is likely necessary and would be planned and permitted in accordance with the Niagara Escarpment Commission policies and guidelines.
We do not anticipate that the project will have an impact on surrounding property values. All of the major infrastructure, except the transmission connection, is planned within the confines of the Meaford base and water exclusion zone. There may be short-term (construction related) impacts to surrounding residents and we will keep surrounding landowners informed of any potentially disrupting activities.
As the project progresses, TC Energy representatives will reach out to landowners who may be directly affected by the project to engage in open, transparent and respectful conversations regarding required land rights and associated compensation. TC Energy representatives will work with directly affected landowners to assess potential impacts as a result of the project and will undertake necessary analysis to support a collaborative discussion on compensation matters. The establishment of compensation for the acquisition of land rights required for the project will be based on the fair market value of the lands.
Should the project demonstrate feasibility, a long-term access agreement with Department of National Defence (DND) is likely to support access for construction and operation. This agreement would allow use under the Dominion Water Power Act and is not a change in ownership. The land will not be purchased nor leased. Right of access under the long-term access agreement with DND will include reimbursement for costs incurred by DND and compensation for impacts. Fees will be payable to the federal government under the Dominion Water Power Act for use of the water resource.
Our goal would be to contain the facility to as much extent as possible within the confines of the Meaford base and in the case of the transmission lines, within existing corridors. Where private lands are required, TC Energy is committed to working with landowners affected by the project to resolve issues and reach mutually acceptable agreements for the land rights required for the project. It is TC Energy’s preference to negotiate voluntary agreements with all landowners and only resort to available legislated expropriation procedures when efforts to obtain negotiated agreements have been exhausted.
We are at the preliminary stages of the project. TC Energy has not yet assessed the requirements of acquiring land for housing for the project.
We anticipate that the project would generate sound while in operation, but expect that the sound would be limited to the immediate area of the proposed pumped storage facility within the restricted area of the military base. We anticipate that the primary source of operating sound from the facility would be the rotating pump/turbine equipment and transformers. The turbines and pumps will be located below ground, which should reduce audible sound. We will be required to meet provincial noise standards during operation, otherwise the project will not be approved by the Regulator. To ensure we are compliant with the noise regulations, site-specific studies and noise modeling will be a component of the environmental assessment process. The results of these studies will be available to all residents as part of this environmental assessment process. TC Energy will consider currently available, proven technologies and mitigating measures to effectively reduce, as much as possible, project sound that might be emitted.
TC Energy would build and operate the facility in compliance with Ontario’s Environmental Noise Guideline and in consideration of Health Canada Guidance for Evaluating Human Health Impacts in Environmental Assessment: Noise. Existing noise levels will be characterized and local potential points of reception (POR) will be identified. PORs are defined as sensitive land uses with human activity including locations like dwellings, campgrounds, schools, hospitals, community centres, place of worship, etc. PORs are evaluated using the baseline noise levels and will be determined by qualified technical specialists and a noise impact assessment will be conducted. The predicted noise levels will be compared with relevant noise impact assessment criteria to determine noise impacts. Potential noise mitigation measures will be recommended where predicted impacts may occur.
A penstock is an enclosed pipe or duct that conveys water between the reservoir and the pumps and turbines. A headrace is a broader term for the transportation of water between the reservoir and the pumps and turbines and can include a penstock or tunnel in this type of pumped storage application.
Approximately 1,000 megawatts (MW) of energy is required to fill the reservoir. It takes longer to fill the reservoir because its completed at a lower water flow rate as the pumps work against gravity and friction, which means the pumping cycle takes longer than the generation cycle. (approximately 11 hours to fill completely from empty).
The upper reservoir is anticipated to have a surface area of 375 acres with a depth of 20 meters. It is currently proposed to be approximately 1.7 km long by 0.9 km wide.
As the project is currently proposed, a full pumping and generation cycle would move approximately twenty million cubic metres of water from Georgian Bay into the upper reservoir and back. Our current expectation that a full cycle on a long-term average would take just over 24 hours.
Electricity would be required to move water into the reservoir. We plan to use clean excess energy from the power grid during non-essential, low-demand periods. Most of this energy would come from existing wind, hydro or nuclear power generation. This low-demand energy is typically exported at a loss or entirely wasted.
From an efficiency perspective, a modern pumped storage facility operates between 70 and 75 per cent approximate efficiency and our proposal is expected to fall in this range. It should be noted that the electricity used in our proposed project is excess electricity that would otherwise be wasted or exported. As a result, we are turning a 100 per cent loss into a 75 per cent gain for the benefit of Ontario consumers and environment.
It is still very early in feasibility planning and a determination of the most appropriate lining material has not been made at this time. However, we will ensure there is separation of the reservoir from underlying and adjacent sediments through engineering design. We will be conducting extensive geotechnical and geophysical studies to ensure the design accounts for local conditions.
The powerhouse would require a surface area of approximately two acres. This building itself would be located underground with some components above ground. The powerhouse will not be in the water.
Ontario’s peak demand is in the range of 16,000 to 22,000 megawatts (MW). The proposed project would be able to store 1,000 MW of electricity and supply 1,000 MW back to the electricity system when Ontarian’s need it most — this equates to between 4 — 6 per cent of system peak daily loads.
The proposed project, once operating, is expected to be dispatched (sold) by the Independent Electricity System Operator to electricity system users depending on demand to maximize rate payer cost savings.
Our goal is for our facilities to operate safely every day so that the public, our workforce and the environment aren’t affected by an incident involving our assets. Safety is, and always will be, our number one value. By reinforcing a disciplined set of rules and providing rigorous training, we approach every day with our goal of a zero-incident workplace. More information about safety at TC Energy is available in our Corporate Responsibility Report.
TC Energy is a leading developer of energy infrastructure. Incidents are unfortunate and rare. Pipelines are the safest way to transport the energy that millions of people rely on every day. Our pipeline safety programs are among the most robust in the industry and the most important part of our business. TC Energy is committed to building and operating this project safely.
TC Energy will design the project to meet or exceed engineering standards and will construct the project adhering to strict design and safety standards. The facility will be subject to regular inspection and maintenance throughout the operational life of the project. Project design will include emergency control measures as backup in the event of unforeseen circumstances. TC Energy is committed to building and maintaining safe facilities with the protection of people, the environment and assets in mind. The last thing TC Energy would want is for any critical incidents to occur at this or any other facility.
Pumped storage is a proven technology that has been utilized for over a century. Over 160,000 megawatts (MW) of pumped storage capacity exists worldwide today, including 165 MW right here in the Ontario. TC Energy’s proposed project will be subject to numerous regulatory approval processes, including an Environmental Assessment approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and will be subject to Dam Safety review approval.
TC Energy will build this project to the highest possible environmental and industry standards. TC Energy is committed to designing the project to meet or exceed engineering standards, constructing to the specification and standards required by the design, and operating the project under a rigorous inspection and maintenance program.
It is important to recognize there are over 15,000 dams in Canada and 121 large dams in Ontario — the planned reservoir will also be a large dam — we depend on them to protect the public. Extreme floods are a primary cause of dam failures, whereby rapid surface runoff exceeds the holding capacity of the reservoir. In contrast, the reservoir proposed is not fed by an upstream natural body of water and will not be subject to extreme flooding events. The maximum flooding event in this area can be managed by running the facility at full output for a few minutes.
Acceptability of residences within an inundation zone downstream of a dam is guided by professional organizations or regulators. For this project, the Canadian Dam Association provides guidance relating to safety considerations and standards.
There are over 15,000 dams in Canada and 121 large dams in Ontario which are of the same scale as the reservoir — and we depend on them to protect the public.
Groundwater and surface water will be studied as part of the environmental and engineering studies to understand both surface and sub-surface water flow. As an example, groundwater field studies will be conducted and will include the installation of monitoring wells to test the hydraulic properties of the substrate and bedrock units underlying the proposed project for baseline analysis. A network of groundwater monitoring wells would be established for continued monitoring of groundwater levels and to understand sub-surface conditions through project construction and operations, for compliance monitoring and due diligence purposes.
The project will follow applicable NERC CIP (North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection) Standards. These standards cover the security of electronic parameters and the protection of critical cyber assets as well as personnel and t
TC Energy has experience owning and operating critical infrastructure facilities.
If the proposed project proceeds, the constructed upper reservoir will be contained within a large dam. Like all components of the proposed pumped storage facility, the dam will be designed in accordance with best practices and in compliance with regulations. It is important to know that there are specific legislated and regulatory requirements in Ontario for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of dams. TC Energy will meet or exceed all of these applicable standards and legal requirements.
It is important to recognize there are over 15,000 dams in Canada and 121 large dams in Ontario — the planned reservoir will also be a large dam — we depend on them to protect the public.
Canada and Ontario have a long and safe history with dam construction and operation. The majority of large dams (>3 million cubic metres of water and 15m or more in height) in Canada were built as components of large hydroelectric projects and Ontario has over 121 large dams, which we depend on to be safe.
The Taum Sauk Pumped Storage Facility went into service almost 60 years ago and is widely considered the first large pure pumped storage facility constructed in the United States (1962). At the time it was considered a novel design which included capabilities for completely remote as well as autonomous operation with no required human intervention, and a design with no failsafe spillway — this design is no longer considered best industry practice. On December 14, 2005, a failure of the reservoir dam occurred. There were a number of reasons that the unfortunate incident occurred, including failures in design, construction, operation, quality control, management structure and communications.
TC Energy’s goal is for our energy facilities to operate safely every day so that the public, our workforce and the environment are not impacted by an incident involving our assets.
Specifically, here are some ways TC Energy would ensure that its proposed pumped storage facility operates safely:
TC Energy has policies, design standards, compliance requirements, an organizational structure and a culture of safety which would have prevented an incident like this from happening. Safety is, and always will be, our number one value and we are committed to the safety of our facilities, protection of the public and our employees.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC, the US agency that regulates most hydropower dams) investigation report provides a thorough examination of the precipitating events that led to the Taum Sauk failure. The hydro and dam industry have learned and evolved since the failure occurred and these learnings will be incorporated into the project by TC Energy.
The cost and environmental footprint to replicate this proposed energy storage project using batteries would be significantly higher when the overall lifecycle impact (mining, manufacturing, installation, replacement and disposal). Batteries do have important roles in the future electricity system (typically for shorter durations), but pumped storage is the most economic and environmentally responsible solution to meeting Ontario's bulk system storage needs. For comparison, the largest lithium-ion battery in the world is 100 megawatts and has less than two-hours of storage capacity.
Ontario has a diverse power system. This project would be an environmental and economic solution to address deficiencies in Ontario’s electricity system – like at night when the province generates more power than it needs.
This facility would largely be filled using surplus nuclear, wind and hydroelectric power, reducing the need to start gas-fired facilities during periods of high demand.
A hydroelectric generating facility uses the natural flow of a river to produce electricity. A pumped storage project does not produce electricity, but instead takes electricity from the electricity grid at times of excess and stores it for use at other times of need. A hydroelectric generating facility and the pumped storage system serve different purposes.
We have committed to reviewing the potential of a closed loop system, amongst other design options, but it is important to note that each design option has benefits and drawbacks that need to be assessed. We believe that an environmentally responsible solution is available for the Project that will be compatible with the ecology of Georgian Bay. Studies are continuing to refine our knowledge of the site and to inform design and solutions to manage the potential effects of the planned open loop system.
Development of an economical pumped hydro storage project must consider various design criteria, including:
There are over 160,000 megawatts (MW) of pumped storage facilities in the world today comprising more than 99% of all energy storage worldwide. Within the United States there are over 22,000 MW of pumped storage facilities, many which have operated for over 40 years. Ontario Power Generation operates a pumped storage facility in Ontario-the Sir Adam Beck Pumped Storage Station at Niagara Falls. This 165 MW facility has been operating since 1954.
The proposed location within the confines of the Meaford Tank Range has the ideal topographic and geographic conditions for pumped storage, including elevation and proximity to water. The proposed site also occupies a portion of the base that is not expected to interfere with the ongoing operations.
There are other locations in Northern Ontario that could be considered but are not ideal due to transmission constraints and proximity to the electricity grid.
Isolation in this case refers to the proposed project footprint being located on an active military base on lands that are not accessible to the public. We regret any impression that we have not considered the proximity of residents in relation to the facility — reducing potential negative effects to the community has and will be a critical element in our planning. We are committed to being a good neighbour and working with the community to answer questions and address concerns you may have about this proposed facility.
Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator has identified an emerging and ongoing need for additional electricity (2,000- 3,000 megawatts), starting in the mid-2020s. As part of a study undertaken by a third-party independent consultant, consideration of a future scenario with high electrification including a high penetration of electric vehicles was considered. Even under this scenario, the study demonstrated increased consumer and climate change benefits with the addition of this facility.
The objective of this proposed project is to utilize the clean electricity system we have in Ontario. It would allow us to use the wind and solar assets that we have, to reduce the need to burn natural gas.
The addition of renewable generation was an improvement to Ontario’s electricity environmental footprint, but it added generation that can be more difficult to control or forecast. Wind and solar are products of the meteorological condition which can change quickly and without warning. With the removal of coal-fired generation, the province has fewer power resources to assist in meeting demand when required and, as a result, operating the system has been more challenging.
This project is intended to conserve and store a large proportion of the excess energy already being generated in the province but currently being exported at a loss or simply wasted through curtailment of production. Ontario needs a flexible resource that can start and stop quickly and change its output to help balance supply and demand. Grid-scale storage, like this project, provides the mechanism to maximize existing and potentially add additional intermittent renewable power if this is a policy objective.
Navigant’s economic analysis shows that on average the project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 490,000 tonnes per year by displacing gas generation in peak hours using emission-free generation (including wind, hydro and nuclear) stored during off-peak hours. As a storage system, excess energy is used to fill the reservoir and it is not anticipated to rely on peak power, which is currently provided by gas-fired facilities in the province. Their report can be found at: TCEnergy.com/PumpedStorage.
The proposed location within the confines of the Meaford Tank Range has the ideal topographic and geographic conditions for pumped storage, including elevation and proximity to water. The proposed site also occupies a portion of the base that is not expected to interfere with the ongoing operations. The Department of National Defence (DND) is currently conducting a feasibility study to determine if the site is appropriate given their ongoing military training activities.
The assumptions surrounding the viability of this proposal were modelled by a third-party independent consultant. Navigant’s economic analysis provides a comparison of the economics and environmental impacts under a range of future scenarios and compares that with a reference case without pumped storage. In all cases, the studies indicate savings to electricity consumers and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Their report can be found at: TCEnergy.com/PumpedStorage.
There are seven operational open-loop pumped storage projects in North America with a pumping capacity of 1,000 megawatts (MW) or more. A summary of existing pumped storage facilities, facilities under construction and planned facilities is available at: Hydropower.org.
TC Energy is in the early planning phase of the environmental assessment. Site-specific environmental studies will be undertaken as part of the environmental assessment required under provincial and federal regulations. We plan to begin environmental field studies in the spring of 2020. These studies are needed to support project design and the regulatory approvals process. We currently anticipate it will take approximately three years to complete the environmental regulatory process and obtain all permits and approvals, and then four years for construction.
The Department of National Defence’s is conducting separate, independent studies.
Under both the federal and provincial processes, TC Energy is responsible for the costs.
As defined in the Impact Assessment Act 2019, mitigation measures mean “measures to eliminate, reduce, control or offset the adverse effects of a project or designated project, and includes restitution for any damage caused by those effects through replacement, restoration, compensation or any other means.”
Mitigation measures are proposed based on site-specific conditions in consideration of current industry accepted practices, engagement with regulatory authorities, compliance with legislation, regulations and guidelines, consideration of feedback from potentially affected landowners, stakeholders and Indigenous groups, and the professional experience of discipline specialists. Mitigation measures are detailed in the environmental assessment/impact statement for review and approval by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
The tank range is federal land and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will serve as the regulator, coordinating the interest of federal authorities including the Department of National Defence, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is the regulator on provincial lands and will coordinate with provincial authorities including the Ministry of Natural Resources and many others. Both have indicated support for a coordinated assessment that will address both federal and provincial regulatory requirements.
As part of early planning we will be undertaking numerous studies that will gather site-specific information about the land, environment and communities within the vicinity of this proposed project. Studies will be conducted in areas of potential impacts and examples of these studies include, but are not limited to:
The only component that could potentially intercept the Beaver Valley would be the overland transmission corridor if this was the selected option to connect the pumped storage facility to the Stayner transmission station. TC Energy is currently evaluating both overland and subsea transmission line options. Any overland routing would be guided by siting criteria that would strive to minimize effects to land users and the environment. Degradation implies unacceptable negative effects which would not be tolerated by TC Energy or permitted by the federal and provincial regulators.
Pumped storage systems involve exchange of water between a lower and a higher reservoir to alternately store and generate electricity. The volume of water during this exchange may vary with site operational needs. We recognize that this exchange of water may impact fish depending on the seasonal population and depth distribution of fish, fish behaviour, and their associated swim speeds. We are currently gathering data to fully understand the local aquatic environment and potential effects to fish as a result of the project, as well as researching design options and other measures that can effectively avoid, minimize or offset for negative effects.
We know there is a risk to fish from the project. Mitigation for potential fish mortality is catered to the local fish species, the habitat, the water and weather patterns of Georgian Bay, and specific to the design of the pumped storage project. We are currently gathering data and planning field studies to obtain site-specific information about the local aquatic environment, which inform engineering and mitigation design.
Extensive fish and fish habitat studies will be completed to provide a scientific measure of the natural aquatic environment and an understanding regarding the abundance of local fish populations. Biologists will work with engineers to identify potential mitigation that can be used. The assessed effects and proposed mitigation to avoid or minimize effects will be presented to the provincial and federal regulatory agencies as part of the environmental assessment and they will determine if the assessment and measures proposed will adequately protect fish and fish habitat.
Preliminary planning is based on generalized expectations and assumptions for a pumped storage project of this size. Those assumptions include components we know will be required, such as the upper reservoir, headraces and pumphouse. Some components, like the transmission line, are necessary but have options for siting and execution that could include Georgian Bay, such as a subsea transmission cable. Some elements may be determined to not be necessary, including breakwalls, but have been included as possible feasible options until design indicates otherwise. Any project components that are planned within Georgian Bay will be evaluated in relation to the environmental data being gathered to determine potential effects. As we continue to gather data and work on engineering designs, we will continue to provide updates and engage with concerned landowners, stakeholders and Indigenous groups about these developments.
TC Energy is considering many design options including evaluating the best location for the inlet/outlet of the headraces. We are currently gathering data and completing feasibility studies to learn more about the aquatic environment which will help us with our engineering design. Engineering design considerations will be evaluated to mitigate potential shoreline effects and will assess the location of the water intake, the velocity of the water being drawn in, the amount of water, and the timing of the water movement (withdrawal and release).
There are internal and external means of ensuring compliance with the commitments made by TC Energy in relation to this project. TC Energy has a number of internal mechanisms to ensure that environmental protection measures and commitments identified in the regulatory filings are implemented during the construction and operational phase of the project. The TC Energy Operational Management System (TOMS) underpins corporate health, safety, sustainability, environment and asset integrity programs to ensure commitment compliance, prevent incidents and protect people, the environment and our assets. Commitments that are made during project development are incorporated into these systems and programs to ensure compliance during construction and operation. At the project level, prior to construction and as a key element of the environmental assessment, a project-specific Environmental Protection Plan will be prepared that lists the detailed mitigation measures included in the assessment as well as established environmental protection measures and both management and contingency plans to address anticipated and unanticipated conditions. Environmental construction support measures include the administration of a mandatory Environmental Orientation to all project workers that must be completed prior to starting work on the project, and the employment of Environmental Inspectors who are responsible for promoting and monitoring continuous and consistent compliance with environmental commitments and mitigation measures, and all permit and approval conditions, applicable environmental laws and guidelines, and TC Energy policies and procedures.
Externally, both provincial and federal regulatory authorities have compliance mandates and will ensure adherence to approval conditions. Mitigation monitoring and/or reporting may also be used by provincial and federal regulators to verify that mitigation measures were properly implemented and that those measures mitigated the predicted adverse environmental effects as anticipated by the responsible authority in its decision.
Species at Risk (SAR) and SAR habitat baseline studies and field surveys will be undertaken in conjunction with the related biophysical baseline studies and environmental assessment surveys which are anticipated to begin in the spring of 2020.
Environmental studies and surveys will be completed to assess the presence or absence of wildlife and wildlife habitat including Species at Risk (SAR) and SAR habitat. Where detected, habitat will be documented to inform assessment of effects, identification of mitigation measures to avoid impacts and any required discussions on habitat offsetting.
An assessment regarding potential effects to trees and other vegetation will be conducted during the environmental assessment. The results of these studies will be made public through the regulatory filing processes.
It is TC Energy’s mandate to safely develop energy in an economically, environmentally and socially responsible manner. We intend to fully study and understand the potential environmental and socio-economic effects of the proposed project. Site-specific environmental studies will be undertaken as part of the environmental assessment required under provincial and federal regulations. These assessments will evaluate the potential effects of the project and identify opportunities to avoid and minimize negative impacts during construction and operation. Ultimately the decision on the acceptability of the effects of the project after the implementation of mitigation measures rests with the federal and provincial regulatory authorities.
Both groundwater and surface water quality and quantity (including Georgian Bay) will be studied to understand the current water quality, using desktop and field studies. Baseline water quality data combined with engineering design will be used to assess the potential effects to water quality. Potential water quality studies could include: changes to temperature, changes in turbidity or water chemistry, and changes to water flow at the intake/outlet in Georgian Bay. A full list of potential effects to water quality would be included in the environmental assessment.
Turbidity is a function of water flows, the material and depth of the outlet, other project structures, and the lakebed.
Site-specific environmental studies including water quality measurements of turbidity, conductivity and pH, will be part of the baseline data collected for the environmental assessment required under provincial and federal regulations. These studies will include an assessment of water turbidity and will be made public.
The provincial and federal ministries have established acceptable guidelines relating to turbidity for the discharge of water during construction and ongoing operations. The project will be designed and constructed so that these levels are adhered to. Baseline monitoring during the environmental assessment will provide a basis for the evaluation and it is expected that ongoing monitoring will be required during operation to assess facility compliance with the naturally fluctuating turbidity levels within Georgian Bay.
Engineering considerations are the primary measures that will mitigate water turbidity effects and include factors such as the design and location of the powerhouse and outlet structure. Once the baseline turbidity levels and conditions are established for the localized part of Georgian Bay, engineering solutions will be developed to mitigate the impact of the facility operation on the local environment.
High water levels, sediment transfer and turbidity are naturally occurring phenomena. The baseline conditions for turbidity will be established during the environmental assessment. Potential for disturbance of water flow in and out of the Bay and associated potential effects will be assessed. These studies will be used to evaluate the potential effects of the project and identify opportunities to avoid or minimize negative impacts during construction and operation. The studies will inform any necessary engineering design refinements to ensure drinking water is not affected as a result of the project.
The facility will be designed to avoid any negative impacts to water sources — we do not anticipate any effect to the Meaford water treatment plant as a result of the project. Disturbance of water flow in and out of the Bay, and associated potential effects, including water quality for the Meaford water treatment plant, will be assessed.
TC Energy does not anticipate the project will impact water wells or the Meaford water treatment plant. Baseline conditions and computer modeling will inform engineering design to ensure potential turbidity and flow patterns are understood and controlled so as not to affect drinking water sources.
It is anticipated the impact to Georgian Bay’s water level will be imperceptible. The amount of water withdrawn from Georgian Bay to fill the reservoir will be dependent on the final design of the facility and operational variability. At this very preliminary feasibility stage, the approximate reservoir volume is 0.023 km3 compared to an approximate full pool volume of 3,538 km3 for Lake Huron.
The amount of water withdrawn from Georgian Bay to fill the reservoir will be dependent on the final design of the facility. At this project feasibility stage, we can estimate using some conservative assumptions, that the volume of the reservoir will be approximately 0.023 km3. In comparison, the full pool volume of Lake Huron based on available data is approximately 3,538 km3. The withdrawal volume will not be perceptible relative to the total volume of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. To put in perspective, it would be comparable to removing one cup (250 ml) of water from a backyard swimming pool.
Groundwater field studies will be conducted which will include the installation of monitoring wells to test the hydraulic properties of the substrate and bedrock units underlying the proposed project and to collect samples for baseline groundwater quality analysis. This data is needed to fully understand the near surface geological properties of the area and ensure the project will be designed to avoid adversely affecting regional groundwater supply. It is anticipated a network of groundwater monitoring wells will be established for continued monitoring of groundwater levels and quality through project construction and operations, for compliance monitoring and due diligence purposes.
The proposed project would not have the same impact as that of a waterfall, like Niagara Falls, which creates massive amounts of turbulence in the water. For this proposed project, the inlet and outlet used to move water would be submerged deep beneath the water surface and the water flow would be controlled. It's more of an accurate comparison to the Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric station on the Niagara River, which takes water and bypasses it around Niagara Falls into the Niagara River downstream of the Falls.
Specifically, the proposed project’s flow rate would be approximately 500 cubic metres per second (m3/s) when pumping, and approximately 700 m3/s when generating. This represents 30% to 40% of the flow rate of the Sir Adam Beck Hydro Facility at Niagara Falls, or 20% to 50% of the flow rate over Niagara Falls.