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Proposed TC Energy Pumped Storage Project

Questions & Answers — July 22 Virtual Community Information Session

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:

  1. Priority Permit: Allows access to Federal Crown land for the purposes of preliminary studies.
  2. Interim Licence: Permits access for the construction of the facility, and,
  3. Final Licence: Authorizes the diversion, use or storage of water for power purposes, or the transmission and distribution of water-power for a period of 50 years following construction of the facility.  

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.

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.

This answer applies to other related questions, noted below.

  • July 22 Virtual Community Information Session dialogue box questions:
    • What is the protocol to organize a meeting with your representatives and our insurance provider? They will not be insuring our property for reservoir/dam flooding etc.
    • If you're certain there will not be any incident, would you consider establishing a trust up front, that could be paid out to homeowners in the event of a catastrophe.
    • Can you comment on the concerns of property owners re the impact on home insurance of the reservoir?
    • TC Energy should be approaching residents about insurance in a class-action process. It is incumbent on TC Energy to embrace nearby residents and offer protection? Not the other way around!
  • Pumped Storage Project email question:
    • Living beneath a dammed reservoir may prevent some residents from obtaining suitable insurance for their homes. What will be done for residents living in the impact zone?

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.

The new design places the inlet/outlets below the surface of the water (approximately five metres) and above the lakebed to avoid mixing of water near the surface or the lake bed. The depth of the inlet/outlets will be designed to remain below water level during storms or low water level events. It is anticipated the impact to Georgian Bay’s water level during operation will be imperceptible. The approximate reservoir volume is 0.023 km3 compared to an approximate full pool volume of 3,538 km3 for Lake Huron. Using Georgian Bay, this results in an expected change in water level of about half a millimeter, which is imperceptible compared to extreme changes in water level during storms. 

The new design is intended to avoid contributions to lake turbidity under all conditions. We also note there are both provincial and federal water quality standards that TC Energy will need to comply with further ensuring no negative impacts as a result of the Project.

The new design concept has moved most of the Project infrastructure underground, which will reduce the interaction of the Project with natural surface runoff. Precipitation that falls within the proposed reservoir area would flow through the power facility and no longer contribute to runoff.  We will need to design the upper reservoir and any other surface infrastructure to account for natural drainage patterns and to maintain them. Where the Project may disrupt surface drainage, we will design measures to redirect and diffuse surface water so as not to disproportionately channel runoff in any potentially disruptive path. We need to complete more detailed topographic studies relative to the ongoing design studies to ensure the Project does not adversely contribute to surface water drainage conditions in the area. 

* While it is still very early in the feasibility planning for the projectour work to date continues to demonstrate the proposed project is technically and economically feasible and we believe we have materially addressed the environmental concerns. There is still a lot of work to confirm these assumptions and we will need to complete a rigorous and comprehensive environmental assessment under the Impact Assessment Act to prove it will not harm the environment, and to understand health, social and economic impacts, as well as potential impacts on Indigenous or Treaty Rights or interests. We cannot begin the Impact Assessment until the Department of National Defence (DND) has completed its internal assessments and given us consent to proceed. 

* This answer also applies to another related question, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • Has TCE already determined the feasibility of the project?

TC Energy has initiated an Indigenous engagement program for the proposed Project. 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 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. 

* Visual aesthetics will be assessed as part of the future impact assessment for the project, however the project would be developed on the Department of National Defence (DND) Meaford Tank Range on land that is generally not accessible to the public. The majority of the project’s infrastructure is planned to be built underground and is anticipated to have limited visibility from the town and shoreline. Once operational, the project is not anticipated to affect recreational opportunities in the area. 

* This answer also applies to another related question, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • Have you factored into your model a factor for the loss of interest in this region based on this installation and the negative impact it will have on a high value retirement and recreational area?

* We are sensitive to the concerns of citizens surrounding the history of the base, however, questions regarding the expropriated lands must be directed to the Department of National Defence (DND). The history of the properties and the protection of areas of historical significance. 

It is our expectation that access to the base for the purposes of constructing and operating the proposed facility would be through a long-term licence under the Dominion Water Power Act.  Payments will be made to the Federal Government under the Act for the use of the resource. One of the fundamental commitments is that the Base at the Meaford Tank Range continues its operations throughout the construction and operation of the proposed facility.  DND has indicated that it is their intention to continue to use the 4th Canadian Division Training (4 CDTC) for this purpose. We will honour any agreements that the Base has established regarding access for the families of the settlers that resided on the lands.   

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • What is TCE’s position on the fact that CFB Meaford was built on appropriated land and now that land will be used in a for-profit project? Is there a plan to compensate these families? 
  • There is an estimated $13M of payments to DND (over 10 years only) in the ERM report to help them with costs to support this project — Will any of the families/descendants who had their land expropriated in the 50s get any of this money?

* The reservoir is anticipated to be partly excavated and partly dammed via dike wallsIt 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, roughly 20 metres high, with a watertight core protected on the upstream and downstream sides by rockfill, gravel filters and sand filters. 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. 

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • What reservoirs have you built or which reservoirs are you modelling on? (Nathan/Jonathan) 
  • How deep will the reservoir be below grade (into the bedrock)?
  • What is the above ground height of the dyke around the reservoir? (Nathan/Jonathan) 
  • How would the reservoir and its walls be constructed and with what materials?

* The new design for the proposed project has provisionally placed the inlet/outlet structure approximately 800 metres from the shore, based on available desktop information and mapped depth of water (bathymetry). Initial primary aquatics data collection is being gathered to better document the specific conditions in the area of the inlet/outlet. This data will help inform the placement of inlet/outlet, including determining if there is high value fish habitat that should be avoided or other influences on the design. 

In parallel, engineering will continue to model local conditions and evaluate the placement of the inlet/outlet. TC Energy is committed to refining the new design to minimize environmental effects within the limits of engineering tolerances. Avoidance of environmental impacts may result in a move to deeper water informed by science and engineering. At this time there is no defined basis for an offshore distance of two km for the inlet/outlet structures. 

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • Is there an optimum depth for release and intake of water? Isn’t deeper better?   
  • How will the 600 metre intake and output ports be affected by large fluctuations in the high and low shoreline variances year by year or decade by decade?  
  • This design and location will place them right in the existing fishing zone.  At what height will they then be up from the lakebed? Will you be asking for approvals to limit access to this part the lake by the community?  
  • I understand you would have a protection area for the intakes you mentioned. How would that protection be effected? How large would that area be?
  • Local fishermen and fisherwomen routinely down rig in that area, from 500 meters to 2km off shore.  Will they still be to fish across that area?  
  • When you say the inlet/outlet structures are in deep water, what depth will they be at and how far off shore will they be?  
  • Will TC commit before construction the water intake and outflow will be a minimum of 600 meters no less, your expert this evening stated the 600 meters was a guideline and might change, my question deals with it shrinking not growing causing shore line turbulence and fish kill. 
  • There has been a significant increase in water level of Georgian Bay over the last few years that is uncontrolled and undesired. What happens if the water level falls to the same extent and the intake/discharge ports are compromised being too close to the water surface? 

* TC Energy is proposing to proceed with lakebed cables as the means for a transmission connection (power delivery). Based on community feedback, we are proposing to advance a lakebed transmission connection across Georgian Bay to the Wasaga Beach Area to connect with the Hydro One Stayner Transformer Station. Both engineering and environmental studies will be completed to study this option. We will need to demonstrate that we have considered alternative routes as part of the environmental impact assessment process, but our intention is to advance a lakebed and underground solution instead of an above-ground transmission route.

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below:

  • July 22 Virtual Community Information Session dialogue box questions:
    • Is there more detailed information yet regarding the hydro corridor needed for this project, specifically where it traverses through properties, roads, etc.? Please show us the proposed design for the pylons/infrastructure of the hydro corridor 
    • Will the submarine cables be laid on the lake bottom or will they be buried?  
    • Clark Little, representing TC Energy, has stated publicly that, under your new design, the necessary transmission line to Barrie will be an undersea cable.  Can you please confirm this? 
    • Where is the power line right-of-way going to go? 
    • What effect will the lakebed route have on Wasaga Beach?  
    • In December you stated that this was 3.3 billion project, now you are presenting a proposal that appears to be larger in scope, will you abandon subsea transmission if the overall project does not comply with the original budget? 
    • What are the exact possible routes for the transmission corridors listed in order of possibility?
  • Pumped Storage Project email question:
    • What is the percentage of likelihood that you would be going under water at all. What are the cons of going under water?

* 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. We will be discussing the construction plans with the community and municipality and we are committed to minimize construction disturbances and traffic to the extent possible. We hope to initiate a formal structured forum for discussions on these subjects with interested stakeholders in the near futureBased on the input from stakeholders and interested parties, as well as local and regional data, the potential impacts of traffic on local residents and infrastructure will be assessed, and mitigation measures to manage traffic during construction will be detailed in the environmental impact assessment. Fuller details surrounding the exact construction routes construction hours and construction timing will be developed in future stages of the project.  A formal traffic study will be required as part of the environmental impact assessments.  

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below, from the Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • Will you be using 7th line Meaford as access to DND property’s preconstruction, construction and decommissioning? 
  • What will be the exact route(s) that construction vehicles will use to transport materials, workers etc. to the site?
  • How many days a week will construction occur on?]
  • What time of day (start and end times)?
  • How many months of construction exactly will take place? 

TC Energy recognizes there are concerns that the project could contribute to local turbidity conditions. The new design will avoid contributing to turbidity by reducing the velocity of water flow using the manifold structure, by raising the inlet/outlet structures above the lakebed and using capped ports to direct water flow horizontally.  The project will adhere to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines and the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives as they pertain to turbidity and suspended sediments. Potential for disturbance of water flow in and out of the Bay and associated potential effects will be assessed. 

There are a few key reasons this project is needed now. First, Pickering Nuclear Generating Station — which currently supplies over 10% of Ontario’s electricity — will close in 2024, leaving a gap between what is needed and what is being generated. 

There are several solutions for generating electricity to address this gap, including pumped storage — they all have long lead times. Because of the long lead times to develop energy infrastructure, if we want to fill the gap, we need to act now. 

And secondly, this project would improve Ontario’s existing electricity system. Ontario produces too much electricity at certain times, typically at night, when electricity demand is low, and is currently being exported at a loss to the United States or wasted by stopping production. This facility would store that excess electricity and redeploy it during the day, when electricity demand is high, to fill the gap after Pickering is closed. 

How this differs from other projects

One of the material differences between this and typical hydro facilities is that the reservoir is not fed by an upstream natural body of water and thus is not subject to extreme flooding from precipitation.   

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.  

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. 

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. If the project advances, we would work with the Municipality to understand their interests and learn how we can ensure the project has a positive economic impact. 

* The Regional Economic Study, prepared by ERM Consultants Canada Ltd., provides an early investigation of the potential social and economic impacts of the Project. The results of the economic modelling in the study show that at peak levels, during Project preconstruction and construction, it is estimated the Project would hire up to 1,033 direct jobs. Further detail can be found in the study, which is available on the Project website. Once in operation, the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions.

We cannot say at this time what the demographics of the workforce will be as that will depend on factors such as labour availability, skill requirements and baseline demographics of the labour force. However, TC Energy requires that prime contractors adhere to its Employment Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy, which requires contractors to provide equal employment opportunities and select a workforce based on qualifications, skills and experience.

This answer also applies to another related question from the Pumped Storage Project email, noted below:

  • How many jobs will the project create?

* Over the last year, TC Energy has had many opportunities to engage with the community and has heard concerns surrounding environmental and visual impacts of an over land transmission line.

As a result of the community feedback, TC Energy has made the decision to advance a transmission route underwater on the lakebed of Georgian Bay from the project site to a location near Wasaga Beach, and underground from there to the Stayner Transformer Station.

Both engineering and environmental studies will be completed along the lakebed cable transmission route during subsequent project design phases and will include a study of alternatives.

Should the project proceed, transmission routing will be a significant component of an Environmental Assessment process, but an underwater route using proven safe technology is what TC Energy is now advancing based on public input.

* This answer also applies to other related questions, noted below:

Meaford Virtual Open House on July 22, 2020.

  • Is there more detailed information yet, regarding the hydro corridor needed for this project, specifically where it traverses through properties, roads, etc.? Please show us the proposed design for the pylons/infrastructure of the hydro corridor.
  • Will the submarine cables be laid on the lake bottom or will they be buried?
  • Clark Little, representing TC Energy, has stated publicly that, under your new design, the necessary transmission line to Barrie will be an undersea cable. Can you please confirm this?
  • Where is the power line right-of-way going to go?
  • What effect will the lakebed route have on Wasaga Beach?
  • In December, you stated that this was $3.3 billion project, now you are presenting a proposal that appears to be larger in scope, will you abandon subsea transmission if the overall project does not comply with the original budget?

Pumped Storage Project email question:

  • Could you tell us where the Hydro wires from Barrie to Meaford are slated to be?

TC Energy cannot speak for the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), but we believe the dispatch capabilities of the proposed Project will complement Ontario's forecast supply mix, address operability issues that the IESO has identified and facilitate significant cost savings to the rate payer over the Project’s economic life of 40-plus years.

As part of the environmental assessment process, TC Energy will collect available air quality data records from the Ontario Ministry of Environment Conservation and Parks and the Environment and Climate Change Canada National Air Pollution Surveillance Network database. The available data allows for the characterization of existing air quality conditions in the area.

The data, along with historic climatic conditions, such as seasonal and prevailing winds, provide inputs to air dispersion modelling of the potential effects from construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed Project. The modelling will indicate the potential distribution, range and concentration of potential “criteria air contaminants” such as suspended and airborne particulate matter (essentially construction dust) and emissions, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.

The baseline and modelled results will be compared against Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria and Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards to determine acceptability relative to human health risks. The proposed Project will have no operational emissions, so the potential for air emissions will be limited to the construction period. Established best practices, such as dust control and avoidance of idling vehicles and equipment, will be implemented during construction to mitigate emissions.

If modelling suggests elevated potential emissions or dispersion patterns affecting local residents, additional mitigation measures will be identified and implemented. The results of the air emissions studies and the mitigation measures to be applied will be detailed in the environmental assessment documents and will be available for public review and feedback throughout the regulatory process.

TC Energy will pay for the potential repair of roads that may be damaged by the construction vehicles involved in the construction of the proposed Project. Based on preliminary analysis, TC Energy believes that construction traffic will have minimal impacts to existing traffic flow leading towards the proposed Project site. Daily access to the construction site will be limited with higher volumes of construction traffic expected only at the following stages:

  • Initial mobilization of earthmoving equipment
  • Mobilization of laydown areas, maintenance areas and temporary offices
  • Mobilization of equipment and material for civil operations

We believe in supporting local communities and providing opportunities through employment and contracts to local people and businesses. The project is still early in the development phase, however we have conducted some in-field feasibility work, such as aquatic studies, that have been supported by hiring from the region as well as the sourcing of local equipment. Additionally, we have hired a full-time community liaison representative from Meaford. If the project advances to the environmental impact assessment process, we will see a further need for personnel during the pre-construction phase.

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. A network of construction access roads within the project site will be designed to allow materials to flow within the project site in order to place materials in their optimized location as construction progresses. Further information will be available. In subsequent project design phases leading up to and including the public environmental assessment processes.

As the facility owner, TC Energy will be responsible for any costs associated with the construction of the project as well as the operational and maintenance costs.

This facility is being designed to address a future supply gap that has been identified by the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) following the shutdown of the Pickering Nuclear Station. Ontario will need 2,000 to 3,000 MW of additional supply in the mid to late 2020s. This situation is described in Figure 18, on Page 15 of the IESO’s Annual Planning Outlook. Figure 22, on Page 18 of the same report, describes the forecast levels of surplus baseload generation in Ontario. The objective of this project is to store this excess electricity and use it to assist in meeting the capacity gap in Figure 18. Modelling conducted by Navigant in the Economic Analysis of a Proposed Hydroelectric Pumped Storage Project in Ontario report that shows how this solution would reduce overall electricity costs and reduce greenhouse gases.

As an example, had TC Energy Pumped Storage facility existed on July 9, 2020, it could have been used to provide up to 1,000 MW of the peak demand of 24,446 MW and in the evening reduced the exports and surplus baseload generation by a corresponding 1,000 MW.

There are numerous examples of pumped storage facilities that have inlet/outlets below the surface of their respective reservoirs. In particular, open-loop facilities in the Swiss Alps, where great efforts have been made to keep facilities out of site and maintain the scenic beauty. One example would be Limmern in Switzerland. A second example would be the Nant de Drance Pumped Storage Power Station, which is being constructed between two large reservoirs, also located in the Swiss Alps. With respect to the concept of tunneling under a lake, Ashbridge's Bay Water Treatment Plant in Toronto is a more proximate example that features a new tunnel, under Lake Ontario, currently under construction.

It is still early in feasibility planning and a determination of the most appropriate materials and material quantities has not been made at this time. We anticipate that some construction materials will be made on site while others will be purchased and trucked or shipped to the construction site from local plants and quarries.

A preliminary study was conducted to confirm the local availability of materials, potentially required, for the various design options. The study confirmed the availability of aggregates, sand, road topping and other construction materials at quarries in the local area, as well as presence of local ready-mix concrete plants and asphalt plants. Further information will be available in subsequent project design phases during environmental impact studies.

The project will have around-the-clock on‐site personnel throughout the construction and operation of the facility, including fencing around the project footprint with designated access points and gated entrances and exits supported by 24/7 security monitoring. Security procedures and access points would be in agreement with the Department of National Defence (DND). The fact the project lies behind the fences of the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Division Training Centre (AKA Meaford Tank Range) provides a further level of security to the project.

Seismic loading is one of the design loading conditions/scenarios that the structures are to be designed to. The individual structures must have acceptable factors of safety for all loading conditions. Seismicity is a single loading condition and the structures need to meet or exceed stated factors of safety for all loading, including both seismic and post seismic conditions. The design of the reservoir will be for seismic conditions that occur once every few millennia or more.

The upper reservoir for the proposed project is a civil structure, similar to a bridge or building that will be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in accordance with best practices and regulatory requirements. There are specific legislated and regulatory requirements in Ontario and in Canada for the safety review, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of reservoirs. Our facility will need to meet or exceed all applicable regulations, including seismic considerations which are expected to be greater than any vibrations from the Department of National Defence’s training, to ensure safety before the project is approved for construction.

The seismic data is available for the public as provided by Natural Resources Canada and the National Building Code. These references determine the seismicity levels for the site based on the rock conditions and history of seismic events in the area. The seismic category for this area is low to moderate within Ontario and is in the same seismic area as the pumped storage and hydroelectric facilities in the Niagara region. This is the same approach that is used across Canada for incorporating seismic loading into the design of structures. Site-specific seismicity studies can be undertaken to refine the values as the design progresses.

While it is still early in the feasibility planning for the project, our work to date continues to demonstrate the proposed project is technically and economically feasible. There is still a lot of work to confirm these assumptions and we will need to complete a rigorous and comprehensive environmental assessment to prove it will not harm the environment, and to understand health, social and economic impacts, as well as potential impacts on Indigenous treaty rights.

We cannot begin this work until the Department of National Defence has completed its internal assessments and given us consent to proceed. If the project advances through to the environmental assessment phase, we will be performing further studies, including studying risks related to the location on the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Division Training Centre (AKA Meaford Tank Range). There will be opportunities for public review and input during this process.

TC Energy is developing this proposed project with the intention of owning and operating it for the life of the facility. We would be wholly responsible for this investment and are planning to design, construct and operate this facility.

It is still early in feasibility planning for the proposed project and the scale of all aspects of this facility has not been determined at this time other than the flow rates of water and the volume of the water within the Upper Reservoir. The scale of the various project components, including the intakes in Georgian Bay, will be determined and published in subsequent project design phases leading up to and including the public environmental assessment process.

The project will have around-the-clock on‐site personnel throughout the construction and operation of the facility, including fencing around the project footprint with designated access points and gated entrances and exits supported by 24/7 security monitoring. Security procedures and access points would be in agreement with the Department of National Defence (DND). The fact the project lies behind the fences of the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Division Training Centre (AKA Meaford Tank Range) provides a further level of security to the project.

To eliminate any possibility of potential human error resulting in overfilling the reservoir or reservoir failure, we will be incorporating several world class-safety measures into the design, including:

  • Multiple and independent overfill protection systems to stop operation of the pumps; and
  • Primary and secondary failsafe overflows to permit a controlled overflow in the unlikely event that all overflow prevention systems fail.

It is still early in feasibility planning and a determination of the most appropriate materials and material quantities has not been made at this time. TC Energy anticipates that some construction materials will be made on site while others will be purchased and trucked or shipped to the construction site from local plants and quarries.

The proposed material management plan is to re-use materials on site that are generated from the excavation operations. Re-using these materials on site will limit the amount of transportation required to and from the site. Marine access to the site via Georgian Bay is one option being considered to facilitate delivery of certain materials or equipment to the construction site while minimizing additional construction traffic on local roads. Further information will be available following the completion of feasibility studies and engineering design.

Ontario’s low-price surplus exports tend to take place at night, when demand is low, and at a time when neighbouring markets are also using low-emission electricity resources — so zero-carbon energy exports from Ontario would not necessarily offset coal generation south of the border. Further, the generation fleets in Michigan and New York are rapidly decarbonizing. While there is potential to offset coal-fired generation in 2019 with zero-carbon energy exports, New York has already retired, as of this year, all its coal-fired capacity and a majority of Michigan's current coal capacity is slated for retirement by around the time the pumped storage plant would come into service. 

Ontario’s power grid is connected to neighbouring power grids across the U.S. Northeast and Canada. As part of their analysis to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction potential of the pumped storage project, Navigant took into consideration electricity flows between these power grids and modelled future scenarios with and without the pumped storage facility. Navigant’s models conclude that inclusion of the project in the future will provide significant GHG reductions across the northeast power grid, even as neighbouring grids are forced to rely on less zero-carbon electricity imports from Ontario.

TC Energy is proposing to proceed with lakebed cables connecting across Georgian Bay to the Wasaga Beach Area to connect with the Hydro One Stayner Transformer Station.

From an efficiency perspective, a modern pumped storage facility has a round trip efficiency between 70 to 80 per cent. Based on preliminary analysis and including transmission losses, the efficiency of this project is anticipated to be within that range.

It should be noted that energy storage reduces load variations on the power grid. This permits power stations that provide base-load electricity to continue operating at peak efficiency. It also reduces the need for “peaking” power plants which are designed for flexibility over efficiency.

The efficiency of the plant, including transmission, is expected to be between 70 to 80 per cent. Therefore, the overall losses are expected to be between 20 to 30 per cent. These losses occur in the energy required to overcome gravity to move the water to a higher elevation, and just like other components of the power grid, in the electrical equipment and infrastructure during operations.

It’s like a water battery, it takes 1,000 MW to charge it (fill the reservoir) and then it will produce 1,000 MW of electricity when it drains. It takes longer to charge the battery though. It takes 11 hours to fill (charge) the reservoir and then when the water is released back to Georgian Bay it would take eight hours to drain the reservoir, producing enough electricity to power one million homes through the process. 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 70 to 80 per cent gain for the benefit of Ontario consumers and environment.

Capturing and storing clean excess electricity that Ontarians have already paid for is one of the core purposes of this project.

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 province or federal governments at this time.

Further, if the project is built it would be many years from the start of operations before TC Energy would recover its capital investment in the project — that is common for a long-life infrastructure investment. TC Energy would be compensated for building and operating costs under a rate regulated cost of service (similar arrangement to your local electricity distributor). The allowed Return on Equity (ROE) is set each year by the Ontario Energy Board depending on current economic factors. The allowed ROE is 8.52 per cent. Using rate regulation in this way ensures a just and reasonable return only, to compensate for the cost of providing the capital.

The efficiency of a rechargeable home energy storage unit would depend on the technology and system used. The most likely candidate for storage of energy in residential homes would be batteries. Batteries have a round trip efficiency of approximately 70 to 95 per cent, depending on the type of battery used and climate which affects the need to heat and cool the cells — the water in the pumped storage project is not heated or cooled. Degradation, caused by charging, of the battery over its lifecycle needs to be considered as well which also results in a loss of efficiency and creates a waste stream of the old degraded battery cells and the need to purchase new cells.

TC Energy is not able to confirm the impact to the distribution grid when utilizing rechargeable home energy devices, especially at the scale of 8,000 MWh, the electricity production capability of our proposed project. However, based on current technology, more than half a million homes would need to be outfitted with a rechargeable battery pack at a significant cost of several times the capital cost of the proposed project. These battery packs would degrade and then need to be replaced several times at an additional cost each time to equal the lifecycle and attributes of a pumped storage asset.

Rechargeable home energy devices may be able to supply emergency back-up power to Ontario homes during power outages, only if it is safety approved for use as an emergency back-up power source. Depending on design, electrical and fire safety standards, it may be required to connect to the electricity grid to operate — most home-use battery systems do not have this ability. Pumped storage is the most economic and environmentally responsible solution to meeting Ontario's bulk system storage needs (provincially).

Emissions associated with construction of the facility would primarily come from construction equipment and transportation. This has not been quantified at this time as TC Energy is still in the early stages of evaluating various different methods for construction including the use of electrical machinery where possible.

As part of the federal and provincial environmental assessments, we will be quantifying estimated project related air and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and assessing the results. That data and analysis will be included in the public regulatory filings for the project.

Should the project demonstrate feasibility, a long-term access agreement with the Department of National Defence (DND) is likely to support access for construction and operation. This agreement would allow licensed 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. This is TC Energy’s current understanding, but DND retains all rights in this regard.

A comprehensive traffic study will need to be completed as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment and it will be required to show that we can safely deliver the workers, equipment and materials to the project site. The public, including local residents, will be engaged directly as part of the process and will have an opportunity to express their concerns and their ideas regarding the proposed traffic plan. 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. While the proposed traffic plans have yet to be completed, 7th line is not expected to be the primary access route.  We will communicate further opportunities for input on the plan when that component of the work is complete.

The potential for increased turbidity relates to the nature of the lake bed sediments in the area where the project will discharge water, specifically the impact of the outflow on fine sediments if not appropriately designed.

Based on preliminary information, the speed of the water flows are designed to be almost the same as the existing natural currents. However, detailed calculations have not been made at this time. These impacts will be captured during the detailed engineer design phase with support from further data collection and 3D modelling. We have available regional data, but need to acquire more robust local data on lakebed sediments and other inputs to turbidity. As part of this initial stage, we are gathering the needed data regarding existing local conditions (sediments, currents), as well as natural and existing contributing causes of turbidity (wind, etc.). This data will inform our engineering and design to ensure the project does not create conditions that increase local turbidity.

The project will adhere to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines and the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives as they pertain to turbidity and suspended sediments.

Geotechnical studies will be undertaken to get a complete understanding of the existing geology, including the potential presence of Karst formations. These studies will inform the design of the reservoir and other components to account for local geological conditions. In the event Karst is present, there are proven technologies that allow for reservoirs and dams to be built safely and there are existing examples of dams built in Ontario in areas of Karst.

The proposed new design will avoid contributing to turbidity by reducing the velocity of water flow using the manifold structure, by raising the inlet/outlet structures above the lakebed and using capped ports to direct water flow horizontally. Fish will be protected as a result of the reduced velocity of water flow which will be at speeds fish can swim free of, through the use of year-round screened structures over the inlet/outlet ports with the size and orientation informed by Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) guidance, and by installing the structures via tunnelling technology into deep water to avoid habitat disturbance. The project will adhere to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines and the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives as they pertain to turbidity and suspended sediments.

On other construction projects, construction has occurred seven days a week. However, it remains too early in the development process to define on-site construction schedules. More information will be forthcoming, and we look forward to working with the Municipality of Meaford, the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Division Training Centre (CDTC) and local residents to guide our approach.

The proposed location within the confines of the Meaford Tank Rage occupies a portion of the base that is not expected to interfere with the ongoing operations. The proposed location also has the ideal topographic and geographic conditions for pumped storage, including elevation and proximity to water.

The project has evolved considerably, especially with respect to the design of water conveyances, pump/turbine location and configuration, and the intake/outfall facilities. While confirmatory work is still required to fully validate and refine the current design, we believe the current proposed configuration addresses many of the concerns raised about the project. 

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 and the environment in mind.

The project environmental assessment has not been started, but is expected to begin once DND has reached a decision on their Operational Impact Assessment. As part of the initial project planning and in order to inform design, TC Energy and our consultants have been gathering and reviewing available data and reports from other related projects, including pumped storage projects, but also any projects that involve inlet/outlet structures, such as the systems used for the Darlington and Bruce nuclear facilities and large-scale municipal water intakes.

While there are similarities to a range of existing and planned projects, the conditions and planning of this proposed project are unique, as is the case with all projects. Many pumped storage projects use impounded rivers or lakes for both reservoirs which results in different risks and conditions. Intakes for once-through cooling systems are similar, but generally involve a lower volume of water and the issue of primary concern is the return of heated water to the environment, which is not the situation for our project. The proposed project is being planned to avoid or minimize negative effects in keeping with current robust environmental regulations and processes, using learnings from past projects, and many new technologies such as tunnelling and directional drilling, lakebed cable installations and state-of-the-art engineering.

 

The environmental assessment, which will include the assessment of the physical environment, including geology, soils, and groundwater conditions, has not been started but is expected to begin once DND has reached a decision on their Operational Impact Assessment. Geology (surface and bedrock) will be characterized and the potential for geological hazards will be assessed to inform design and any engineering or mitigation requirements. Soils will be characterized and assessed to identify construction and reclamation handling and mitigation needs. 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.  As part of the environmental assessment process, a full list of potential effects to environmental values 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.  

We will be developing detailed plans for worker housing should the project move forward. Studies will be completed that will consider increased demand for housing and accommodation and the potential socio-economic effects. As we identify housing needs for project workers, we will continue to engage with the communities and stakeholders and will work with municipalities and existing accommodation providers to develop a comprehensive workforce accommodation plan.

We expect all TC Energy employees and contractors to follow the TC Energy Alcohol and Drug policy, which prohibits the use and possession of alcohol when on TC Energy business, premises and worksites.

It has become commonplace in Ontario to enter into agreements with communities that host electricity infrastructure projects. Should our proposed project proceed, we would expect that a potential Community Agreement with Meaford would be similar to what we have in other communities, where we have facilities. The agreement would encompass our commitments to employment and economic benefits, community investment, environmental protection, and a cost recovery mechanism that will keep Meaford whole. As an example, our Host Community Agreement in Napanee included a commitment to:

  • funding for community development initiatives over the ensuing 20 years
  • the formation of community liaison and construction coordination committees
  • contribute to a power engineering scholarship
  • funding all project-related expenses incurred by the Municipality
  • notify and advertise all employment, contracting and supplier opportunities
  • report to council on a regular basis regarding the performance of the facility with respect to its compliance requirements  

Each community is unique, and we would expect the Community Agreement developed for the Municipality of Meaford would reflect its unique requirements, needs and vision.

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. 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.

As currently proposed, the Primary Spillway is essentially a large funnel-shaped drain that acts as a failsafe, in the unlikely event that the upper reservoir is nearing capacity, by allowing water to drain back into Georgian Bay. The Secondary Spillway is a back-up drain for the upper reservoir which acts as an additional failsafe to the Primary Spillway and would be engineered for a controlled release of water. Neither the Primary or Secondary Spillways are expected to be needed during the operating lifetime of the project as the following design features will be incorporated to prevent overfilling:

  • Independent automatic software control features will prevent overfilling or rapid filling
  • Duplicated and independent monitoring by hardwired sensors will cut power to pumping if the software control features do not activate
  • Operation of the facility will be monitored continuously by trained operators, 24-hours a day, seven -days a week.

In addition to design features, it should be noted that extreme rainfall (such as a 1:100-year 12-hour persisting dewpoint storm day event) can be drained from the reservoir in minutes through conventional operation of the facility. Also, the reservoir would not be fed by large upstream bodies of water, like many existing hydro dams and reservoirs. As a result, the total area of rainfall affecting the reservoir would be limited to the surface area of the reservoir.

Below the crest of the escarpment, the slope will block the view of the Upper Reservoir, and any trees, houses, or other vegetation will further obstruct the view. We expect that once constructed the proposed project will not be visible from Road 112 (9th Line) from Highway 26 until very near the 4th CDTC entrance.   

Visual renderings, which are computer-simulated images that take into account the local topography, can be prepared based on the latest surveys completed in the Region. The renderings will show a view with the proposed project location, shape, vegetation and elevation factored in. Visual assessments, including the generation of computer models, are part of the environmental impact assessment that will be needed to advance the proposed project and as part of the regulatory approval process.

The height of the proposed reservoir is expected to be approximately 20 metres above the current ground elevation. Additional above-ground structures anticipated for the proposed project include an office and control room, as well as a switchyard. These structures are expected to be located adjacent to the existing Department of National Defence (DND) road, which continues beyond the 7th Line road. The proposed office and control room is expected to be a standard single-story building. The dimensions of the proposed switchyard have yet to be determined. Further information will be available in later design stages and leading up to the start of the environmental process, should the project proceed.  

At TC Energy we invest in long-life energy assets that are underpinned by fundamental social needs and long-term economics. Ontario will be seeking some form of capacity resources when the Pickering Nuclear Station is closed around the middle of this decade and we think grid scale storage is an ideal solution given we have lots of energy for the foreseeable future and its clean. 

The IESO Annual Planning Outlook , Figures 18 and 22, illustrate the need for additional capacity in the future and the prevailing level of surplus baseload generation. The development, environmental assessment, permitting and approvals, and finally construction, are expected to take a total of eight years.   

Based on community feedback, we are advancing a lakebed transmission connection across Georgian Bay and underground connection from the Wasaga Beach Area to a connection with the Hydro One Stayner Transformer Station. Studies and data collection are still underway, but we believe the rationale for the lakebed transmission route can be justified to regulators.  

We will need to demonstrate that we have considered alternative routes as part of the environmental impact assessment process, but our intention is to advance a lakebed and underground solution to the existing above-ground transmission system.

The decision to advance the lakebed solution was made on the basis of overwhelming stakeholder input stating their preference for this option. It was also a recommendation of the Chief Administrative Officer’s Municipality of Meaford Report on the project that was discussed at the Council meeting on June 1, 2020.  

While it is still very early in the feasibility planning for the project, our work to date continues to demonstrate the proposed project is technically and economically feasible and we believe we have materially addressed several key environmental concerns. We have worked with and continue to work with experienced engineers, equipment suppliers and construction contractors who have successfully delivered hydroelectric projects as well as key features such as the new water inlet/outlet on Georgian Bay throughout Ontario, Canada, and internationally. We are confident that we can utilize existing commercially available equipment and construction methods to build this project.

There are many technologies that can be used to store electricity – TC Energy is exploring many of them to assess where they can best be deployed. For example, batteries will play an important role in our future electricity system, and we are currently involved in battery storage projects in Canada.  

However, with the planned closure of the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant in just a few years, and the need to effectively balance Ontario’s vast renewable generation, large-volume/long-duration energy storage is needed. Pumped hydro storage is a proven reliable, long-life and low-cost technology to meet this required need. The cost and environmental footprint to meet this need using current battery technology would be significantly higher when considering the overall lifecycle impact of mining, manufacturing, installation, replacement and disposal associated with batteries.

We continue to believe that pumped storage is the most economic and environmentally responsible solution to meeting Ontario's bulk system energy storage needs – and for addressing climate change – now and into the future.

We are still early in the planning process of the project and details of access for construction have not been determined. Access roads on 7th Line and 9th Line are being reviewed, however 7th Line has a limited ability to support construction traffic, as is noted in your question. We are also looking to determine if there are further alternative roadways but do expect generally to use 9th Line (Road 112) as a primary road versus 7th Line.

We will be discussing the construction plans with the community and municipality and we are committed to minimize construction disturbances and traffic to the extent possible. We hope to initiate a formal structured forum for discussions on these subjects with interested stakeholders. Based on the input from stakeholders and interested parties, as well as local and regional data, the potential impacts of traffic on local residents and infrastructure will be assessed, and mitigation measures to manage traffic during construction will be detailed in the environmental impact assessment. Further details surrounding the exact construction routes construction hours and construction timing will be developed in future stages of the project.  A formal traffic study will be required as part of the environmental impact assessments. Should a need for upgrades be identified to ensure safety, TC Energy will pay for these upgrades.

The design of the project has taken and will continue to take water quality into consideration. The proposed design has a lower inlet/outlet that is designed to mimic existing water currents by limiting the velocity of water flow using multiple raised ports above the lakebed, internal flow diffusers and by capped ports to direct water flow horizontally. Based on preliminary information, the speed of the water flows are expected to be of the same magnitude as the existing natural currents in the area.

However, this needs to be confirmed with detailed studies, which will be done as part of the lead up to the environmental impact assessment. The project will adhere to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines and the Ontario Provincial Water Quality Objectives as they pertain to turbidity and suspended sediments.

TC Energy is confident that the existing residential water sources will not be negatively impacted. In the unexpected event that water quality issues arise during construction or operation, TC Energy will be responsible to address the issue.

We recognize that this is an important topic to the citizens of Meaford. We accept our responsibility to make sure that we can demonstrate that if we build the Pumped Storage Project, it will be designed to keep residents safe and subsequently built, maintained and operated safely for as long as it remains in service. Ultimately TC Energy is responsible for any potential impacts from project including the Upper Reservoir.

What we are proposing is not without precedent. There are more than 15,000 dams in Canada and 121 large dams in Ontario. There are two pumped storage facilities with reservoirs in Niagara, one on the Canadian side and one on the American side, that have operated safely for decades. Canada and Ontario have a long and safe history with dam construction and operation. The term “hydro” in Ontario is often synonymous with electricity. It’s how the province began generating electricity and today electricity generated in hydro facilities represents about a quarter of all the electricity we consume in this province.  

The upper reservoir for the proposed Pumped Storage Project is a civil structure, similar to a bridge or building, that will be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in accordance with best practices and regulations found within Ontario and from around the world. There are specific legislated and regulatory requirements in Ontario and in Canada for the safety review, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of dams. Our facility will need to meet or exceed all applicable regulations, including seismic considerations, to ensure safety before the project is approved for construction.

In developing the Pumped Storage Project, we will engage qualified and experienced engineers to design the facility and we will similarly construct the facility with contractors who have experience building hydro facilities. 

Additionally, there are important material differences between this project and a ‘typical’ hydro facility. The first is that the reservoir is not fed by an upstream natural body of water and thus is not subject to extreme flooding from precipitation. Historically, extreme flood events are frequently the cause of dam failures. And, with around-the-clock onsite staff, the maximum flooding event in this area can be managed by running the facility at full output for a few minutes, directing water from the reservoir to be returned via underground tunnels back to Georgian Bay.

As well, to ensure the reservoir cannot be overfilled, we have incorporated several world class-safety measures into the design, including:

  • Multiple and independent overfill protection systems to stop operation of the pumps; and
  • Primary and secondary failsafe overflows to permit a controlled overflow in the unlikely event that all overflow prevention systems fail.

We are confident we can design, build, operate and maintain a safe reservoir and we want to prove it to you.

If blasting is conducted during construction, it will be a controlled activity performed by qualified specialty contractors within the restricted area of the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre following standard construction regulations and best practices. As such, damages beyond the intended construction target are not expected. TC Energy would take responsibility for any damage that is caused by our activities.

TC Energy will be responsible for costs associated with the development and operation of the proposed project. We have made a commitment to reimburse the Municipality of Meaford for any expenses related to the review of or applications required by the project and we have committed to carry our fair share of municipal costs once in operation. We look forward to working closely with the Municipality of Meaford to discuss municipal tax considerations.

Development and construction of the project will require a large workforce, filling many types of positions from administrative to on-site trades. The Regional Economic Study was prepared by ERM Consultants Canada Ltd. and provides an early investigation of the potential social and economic impacts of the project. The results of the economic modelling in the study show that at peak levels during project preconstruction and construction, it is estimated the project would hire up to 1,033 direct jobs, with up to 141 from the region. Additionally, the modelling estimates that the project would also support approximately 2,800 additional spinoff jobs regionally and in Ontario. Once in operation, the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions on site. With more than $1.3 billion paid in wages generated by job creation locally, provincially and across Canada, there would be a significant positive economic impact from the project.  

The project development team is comprised primarily of existing personnel from TC Energy, who continue to work on this project. Additionally, this year we have hired a full-time community liaison representative from Meaford. The project is being supported by external consultants who provide expertise in conducting studies and analyses.  

During project preconstruction and construction, it is estimated that the project would hire up to up to 1,033 direct jobs, including 141 workers from the region, 778 workers from the rest of Ontario and 114 workers from the rest of Canada. This would be equivalent to 3,300 person-years of direct employment over the entire preconstruction and construction phase, which is anticipated to last until 2028. Once in operation, the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions on site.  

The potential economic effects of the project will be studied further as part of a more detailed economic study, which would be undertaken as part of the regulatory process, should the project advance to that phase.

The project is still early in the development phase, however we have hired a full-time community liaison representative from Meaford. If the project advances to the environmental impact assessment process, we will see a further need for personnel during the pre-construction phase.  

Once in operation, the facility will employ approximately 20 permanent positions on site. There will also be significant local contracting work to support operations and maintenance in addition to the direct operations roles.

The economic modelling in the Regional Economic Study was conducted using a proprietary model based on Statistics Canada Input-Output Model data of the economies of Canada and the provinces and territories. The model estimated the beneficial effects of the project on employment, labour income, gross domestic product (GDP), and provincial and federal tax revenues with a focus on Grey, Bruce and Simcoe counties. TC Energy hired ERM to conduct preliminary independent studies on both the economic and employment impacts so that we would have fact-based information to share with the community. The results are meant to inform stakeholders and Indigenous communities of estimated benefits early in the planning stage so there is sufficient time to plan how to maximize economic benefits from the project.  

This project is still a proposal at this point and the Regional Economic Study was an early investigation of the social and economic impacts that we conducted to help answer questions we have heard in the community. A more detailed economic study will be undertaken as part of the regulatory process.

The permanent facility is entirely with the confines of the Meaford base and Georgian Bay. In the case of the transmission lines, TC Energy has made the decision to advance a transmission route underwater on the lakebed of Georgian Bay from the project site to a location near Wasaga Beach, and underground from there to the Stayner Transformer Station.

If the project advances to the pre-construction 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.

The proposed project is a capital intensive, long life (40+ years) asset with minimal ongoing operational costs.  The commercial structure could include Ontario Energy Board rate regulation or a contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Once operational, the facility will reduce the costs of electricity for Ontario ratepayers by approximately $250 million per year.

The scheduled closure of the 3,100 MW Pickering Nuclear Generating station by the end of 2025 will result in a need for additional installed electricity capacity to meet system needs.  The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is responsible for assessing the supply and demand in the province and published an Annual Planning Outlook, http://www.ieso.ca/en/Sector-Participants/Planning-and-Forecasting/Annual-Planning-Outlook which provides details surrounding the need for additional supply. In the latest edition, the IESO states: “Although Ontario’s energy requirements can largely be met with existing and available resources, a summer capacity need does arise in the 2020s. Assuming existing resources remain available, a capacity need of approximately 2,000 megawatts emerges in 2023 and grows slowly through 2040.”

The proposed pumped storage facility can be compared to a transmission line. Owners of transmission lines recover the costs of owning and operating their assets through a cost of service regulation, under the authority of the Ontario Energy Board. The proposed pumped storage facility is anticipated to be treated in a very similar manner. It should be noted that the project is expected to save ratepayers $250 million a year after paying for the facility as a result of making the Ontario electricity system operate more efficiently.

The facility can provide a number of services to the electricity grid: capacity, standby operating reserves, load following, as well as the ability to shift energy from periods of excess supply to times of high demand. As a grid asset it performs this service for the benefit of the Ontario ratepayer. The facility will not be in the business of making profits from buying energy at low prices and selling energy at high prices.

Ontario is actually a net exporter of electricity to adjoining jurisdictions*. For reference, Ontario’s power system exported enough electricity to power more than 1.5 million homes in 2019. The proposed pumped storage facility is designed to make use of and store surplus energy, energy that gets exported when electricity demand is low. It would then redeploy it when electricity demand is high, reducing the need for fossil-fuelled generation, which is typically used to meet Ontario's needs during periods of peak demand.

* http://www.ieso.ca/en/Corporate-IESO/Media/Year-End-Data, “Ontario continued to be a net exporter in 2019, exporting 19,779 GWh of electricity, and importing 6,613 GWh.”

It is expected that during pre-construction and construction the Project would procure the majority of goods and services regionally (meaning within Bruce County, Grey County and Simcoe County), as well as from the province of Ontario and the rest of Canada. A limited amount of materials and equipment may be procured internationally, subject to domestic capacity and capability. During operations, it is expected that direct annual operating costs would be spent within the three closest counties (Bruce, Grey and Simcoe), with indirect and induced impacts regionally, as well as extending to the rest of Ontario and the rest of Canada.

Using the science-based data collected during the environmental studies, as well as the design options and requirements for the project, we will incorporate mitigation measures to minimize potential effects on fish. TC Energy and the specialists working on the Project have been reviewing and considering all established and emerging mitigation measures to address potential effects of the Project on fish, including possible fish diversion systems, physical barriers (e.g. screens) and behavioural deterrents (e.g. air bubble or water jet curtains). These measures have been proven to be effective in specific applications. Science is always evolving, and as with all mitigation measures, as experience is gained, continual improvements are identified, and case-specific solutions are implemented as appropriate. We will review all the technologies available today and are confident that solutions can be employed on this project which will adequately address any potential negative effects on fish.

It is still very early in the project planning phase and an RFI for the complete construction has not been issued. However, we have been in touch with several of the 10 largest construction companies in Canada and have specifically consulted on this project. Procurement activities of construction companies, including mining and tunnelling companies, will be solicited in subsequent project phases.

TC Energy is a leading developer of energy infrastructure and 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 design standards, constructing to the specification and standards required by the design, and operating the Project under a rigorous inspection and maintenance program. TC Energy expects that a rigorous, transparent assessment of the long-term value of the facility will be completed before construction begins, either at the Ontario Energy Board or through an equivalent process.

The water exchanged during the Project operation is not used for cooling — hydropower is produced using gravity and the flow of water, so there is no intentional transfer of energy (heat) in the process. There is a negligible amount of heating of the water due to the power consumed in pumping, from friction, and in energy conversion.

The water is expected to be circulated routinely when the facility is operating, reducing the potential for ambient temperature transfer, and additionally there will be some cooling effects due to evaporation from water contained in the upper reservoir. The volume of water flows into and out of the project are small relative to the capacity of Georgian Bay, especially given the location of the inlet/outline in the Bay. This will be considered in the environmental assessment as it relates to potential effects to the aquatic environment.

The upper reservoir for the proposed project is a civil structure, similar to a bridge or building, that will be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in accordance with best practices and regulatory requirements. Just like the bridges, buildings and hydroelectric dams in Ontario now, public safety is protected through adherence to regulations and engineering standards and practices — including normal design criteria for cyclic loading conditions, along with regular inspections and routine maintenance activities.

Canada and Ontario have a long and safe history with dam construction and operation. The term hydro in Ontario is often synonymous with electricity. It’s where we started, and today electricity generated in hydro facilities in Ontario represents about a quarter of all the electricity we consume in this province.

There are also specific legislated and regulatory requirements in Ontario and in Canada for the safety review, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of reservoirs. Our facility will need to meet or exceed all applicable regulations to ensure safety before the project is approved for construction. 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.

We look forward to working with the community to demonstrate how we will meet these standards and how we will design, build and operate a safe reservoir.

The new design for the proposed project has provisionally placed the inlet/outlet structure approximately 800 metres from the shore, based on available desktop information and mapped depth of water (bathymetry). Initial primary aquatics data collection is being gathered to better document the specific conditions in the area of the inlet/outlet and confirm appropriate siting. The use of a raised screened inlet/outlet manifold design is considered state-of-the-art with respect to minimizing impacts to the aquatic environment and minimizing turbidity. Engineering will continue to model the placement of the inlet/outlet using data collected on local conditions and evaluate as well as optimizing the configuration of the manifold screened inlet/outlet concept. TC Energy is committed to refining the new design to minimize environmental effects.

In terms of other similar systems on the Great Lakes, the Region of Halton’s Mid-Halton Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall project consists of a new dedicated effluent sewer and outfall pipeline that will convey treated water from the Mid-Halton WWTP to a diffuser field in Lake Ontario. The outlet design consists of a manifold of raised screened inlets like what we are proposing for this project. Another example is the City of Toronto’s Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant Outfall project, it involves a new tunnelled outfall that will convey treated water from the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant into Lake Ontario. Similarly, the outlet design consists of a manifold of raised screened inlets like what we are proposing for this project. The Niagara Falls Underground Power Station project involved the construction of a tunnel to provide additional water capacity from the Niagara River to Ontario Power Generation’s Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric generating station. The geotechnical conditions and the construction methods proposed for our project are expected to be similar.

The proposed project’s total flow rate would be approximately 500 cubic meters per second (m3/s) when pumping, and approximately 700 m3/s when generating. Water extraction rate in itself does not indicate the velocity of water at the inlet/outlet structures. Through the use of a diffused manifold design, the flow velocity at the lower inlet/outlet structures during pumping (water intake) is expected to be approximately 0.2 meters per second (m/s) (a speed limit of less than 1 km per hour), which mirrors the natural current in Georgian Bay and is below the break-away swim speeds of the majority of fish species that may be present in Georgian Bay.

At this stage, the design has not progressed to the point of examining this detail, however use of smart control systems are part of normal design. It is our intent to establish an independent design review panel, which will examine best practices including the suggestion here of whether or not the use of smart health monitoring and instrumentation devices should be used in critical structural locations.

We remain in the early stages of design work, but we have contracted initial design work to a licensed professional Ontario consulting engineering company who has a Certificate of Authorization granted by the Professional Engineers of Ontario and has engineers certified to practice in the province of Ontario. In addition, our principal internal project engineers are registered with the Professional Engineers of Ontario.

We are still early in the planning process and details of access for construction access and workforce parking have not been determined. Access on existing roads is being reviewed and options are being considered, but it is too early in the planning process to determine preferred options. Once a decision is provided by DND regarding the compatibility of the proposed project with the base, detailed studies are expected to proceed as they are needed to progress project planning as well as the regulatory process. TC Energy will also continue to engage on the developing design and planning, including information regarding workforce parking.

We have heard the feedback from local residents and will be discussing the construction plans with the community and municipality as we progress the proposed project. We are committed to minimize construction disturbances and traffic to the extent possible. We hope to initiate a formal structured forum for discussions on these subjects with interested stakeholders. Based on the input from stakeholders and interested parties, as well as local and regional data, the potential impacts of the project on local residents and infrastructure will be assessed, and mitigation measures to manage effects during construction will be detailed in the environmental impact assessment.

While the formal environmental studies for the proposed project, including detailed acoustic modelling, will be initiated only if a positive decision is received from the DND, the potential for noise propagation beyond the immediate project area is informed by applied experience and professional judgement. 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 will reduce audible sound above ground.

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 noise regulations, site-specific studies and noise modelling will be a component of the environmental assessment process. The results of these studies will be publicly available as part of the 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.

The maximum gross operating head is approximately 190m and the minimum head would be approximately 170m. In designing hydropower facilities, the head, as well as water flow rate, combine to determine the power output capability of the facility. We note that the water flow will pass through a diffused inlet/outlet in Georgian Bay, which will slow the water down to a maximum speed of less than one km/hour.

TC Energy expects to employ unionized workers for much of the direct construction labour for the project. There will be additional opportunities for subcontracted work that may or may not be unionized. Further, the ERM regional economic study indicated that for every direct job on the proposed project, there are an additional 3.5 indirect and induced employment opportunities created which may or may not be union.

Understanding that the main argument for a closed-loop configuration was protection of the aquatic environment, we set about to develop solutions for an open loop configuration that would accomplish this. We made three significant changes to the project. First, the powerhouse which was previously at the shoreline has been relocated deep underground. Second, the inlet/outlet will be located offshore in deep water, where there is expected to be less sensitive fish habitat and fewer fish present. The inlet/outlet will be accessed via tunnels installed beneath the lakebed, avoiding impacts to the shoreline and lakebed and preserving sensitive near-shore fish habitat. Lastly the inlet/outlet structures will be raised off the lakebed and incorporate fixed screens.

This design reduces the speed of water withdrawn and released, reducing the potential to create turbidity, maintaining water clarity and further protecting any fish that may be present. We believe the current proposed design addresses many of the concerns raised about the early project concept and that this is an environmentally responsible solution for the Project that will be compatible with the ecology of Georgian Bay.  

TC Energy committed to reviewing the potential of a closed-loop system, amongst other design options, including potential benefits and drawbacks. Our review concluded that a closed-loop pumped storage configuration at this location would reduce the capacity and increase the cost of the project to the extent it would make it uneconomic. A closed-loop system would also involve permanent environmental impacts near the shoreline related to a permanent lower reservoir and would require more of the Meaford Base which would affect DND operations more substantially.

No, TC Energy is not involved in the housing projects noted as underway in the area. At this early stage, we have not yet developed detailed plans for worker housing. We will continue to engage with communities and stakeholders with regards to potential accommodation options.

Ontario is a net exporter of electricity because it has excess electricity generation, however a significant portion of this generation is from renewable resources that operate based on weather conditions and not electricity demand. Ontario’s power system is constantly both importing and exporting electricity, but is overall a net exporter of electricity. Energy generated from neighbouring jurisdictions includes diverse supply sources such as nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, natural gas-fired, oil-fired, coal fired electricity.

The proposed pumped storage facility is able to store surplus energy during off-peak periods to displace natural gas and natural gas- and oil-fired generation that is used to meet Ontario's needs during periods of peak demand.

TC Energy’s engineering and environment teams have undertaken, and continue to conduct, an extensive review of existing projects with similar interactions with water, including pumped storage projects, municipal water intakes, once-through cooling systems and hydroelectric generating facilities to understand the potential impacts and the various means of avoiding or minimizing those effects to help inform the planning for the proposed Pumped Storage Project.

It is important to note is that there are similarities to a range of existing and planned projects, but the conditions and planning of this Project are unique, as is the case with all projects. Many pumped storage projects use impounded rivers or lakes for both reservoirs which results in different risks and conditions. Intakes for once-through cooling systems are similar, but generally involve a lower volume of water and the issue of primary concern is the return of heated water to the environment, which is not the situation for our Project. Municipal inlets or wastewater outfalls may be similar in design or function but are often at a different scale and have other environmental considerations and potential effects.

The new design has been informed by the learnings from past case studies and community feedback. Notably, the relocation of the powerhouse and related infrastructure, including the headraces and tailraces, to be fully underground and installed by tunnelling technologies that will avoid ground disturbance and avoid affecting the wildlife, vegetation and cultural resources on land. The new design will also protect the escarpment and preserve the natural viewshed of the area, as well as substantially reduce the source of light and noise produced by the Project. Similarly, the relocation and complete redesign of the inlet/outlet structure in deep water and use of a manifold system to reduce the velocity of water exchange, as well as using year-round screened end structures, are all learnings from newer facilities and built on the knowledge gained from past projects and the priority for environmental protection for this Project. All aspects of the Project, including the transmission connection and interconnection to the provincial electrical system, will be informed by available data and learnings from other existing and planned developments.

Construction will require many activities, such as clearing of forest, excavation of the escarpment and building of a berm for the reservoir.

Heavy trucks, bulldozers, wheel loaders, pneumatic drills and other motorized equipment will create particulate matter (PM) comprised of two kinds of microscopic particles, minerals (silica and other minerals from rocks processing), and hydrocarbon and soots from diesel exhaust.

Established best practices, such as dust control and avoidance of idling vehicles and equipment, will be implemented during construction to mitigate emissions. The construction phase of the proposed project is comparable to other large civil engineering projects such as major highway interchanges or commercial or large subdivision area developments.

The proposed project will have no operational emissions, so the potential for air emissions will be limited to the construction period.

As part of the environmental assessment process, TC Energy will collect available air quality data records from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) and the Environment and Climate Change Canada National Air Pollution Surveillance Network database. The available data allows for the characterization of existing air quality conditions in the area.

The data, along with historic climatic conditions, such as seasonal and prevailing winds, provide inputs to air dispersion modelling of the potential effects from construction and operation of the proposed Project. An air dispersion model, which must be approved by MECP, is a mathematical tool used to assess emission concentrations that are then compared to MECP air standards and guidelines. The modelling will indicate the potential distribution, range and concentration of potential “criteria air contaminants” such as suspended and airborne particulate matter (essentially construction dust) and emissions.

The baseline and modelled results will be compared against Ontario’s Ambient Air Quality Criteria and Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards to determine acceptability relative to human health risks.

The results of the air emissions studies and the mitigation measures to be applied will be detailed in the environmental assessment documents and will be available for public review and feedback throughout the regulatory process.

As part of the initial project planning and in order to inform design, TC Energy and our consultants have been gathering and reviewing available data and reports from other related projects, including pumped storage projects, but also any projects that involve inlet/outlet structures, such as large-scale municipal water intakes and wastewater outfalls. While there are similarities to many existing and planned projects, the conditions and planning of this proposed project are unique, as is the case with all projects.

In general, all environmental values need to be assessed for any major development undergoing an environmental assessment. In the case of inlet/outlet structures, interactions with the aquatic environment are fully assessed, though the nature of those interactions may vary depending on the nature and function of the system under consideration. Many pumped storage projects use impounded rivers or lakes for both reservoirs which results in different risks and conditions. Outfalls for treated wastewater present different interactions pertaining to sanitation and possible residue substances and water quality risks. However, interactions with the aquatic environment are not the only effects for any project, and all major developments are assessed for the suite of environmental, cultural, natural, social and economic interactions that may be anticipated during construction and operation of the development. The proposed Pumped Storage Project is being planned to avoid or minimize negative effects in keeping with current robust environmental regulations and , using learnings from past projects, and many new technologies such as tunnelling and directional drilling, lakebed cable installations and state-of-the-art engineering.

 

 

The design changes that we have described have increased the cost of the project by about $1 billion. Field data, engineering studies, and importantly, input from stakeholders all contributed to the need for these changes. Even with these changes, there are still significant economic savings to electricity consumers in Ontario.

Frequently Asked Questions

About TC Energy

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.

Construction

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.

Decommissioning

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.

Greenhouse Gas and Air Emissions

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 and Community Relations

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.

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.

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.

Land

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.

Noise

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.

Design

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.

Safety and Integrity

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:

  • The Taum Sauk facility was operated remotely with no staff on-site, and as a result, the overfilling was not immediately apparent. Our proposed facility would be staffed 24/7 with qualified operating engineers who would monitor, amongst other things, the level of water in the reservoir on a continuous basis. In the unlikely event of an overflow, operators would immediately be aware it was occurring and take corrective actions.
  • We would design and construct the upper reservoir so that it could not be overfilled. Unlike Taum Sauk, the reservoir will have a spillway designed to accommodate the maximum rate of fill to allow controlled overflow capability in the unlikely event the reservoir reaches its capacity limit. 
  • We would incorporate standard rigorous quality control procedures throughout the design and construction process to ensure the integrity of the dam is established and maintained.

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.

Alternatives

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:

  • Proximity to population centres and electrical demand;
  • Elevation of approximately 150 metres between the upper and lower reservoirs;
  • Proximity to a transmission connection point that can accommodate 1,000 megawatts (MW) of load and generation; and
  • Land with limited public access.

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.

Environmental Assessment

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 aquatic environment, including fish and fish habitat, water levels, water quality and currents
  • The terrestrial environment, including vegetation, wildlife and soils
  • The physical environment, including air quality and noise
  • Local cultural and socio-economics, including archaeological and cultural resources, land and water use, recreation activity, population, infrastructure and community services
  • The results of the studies will be analyzed, and the potential environmental effects will be assessed for the project in the environmental assessment.

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.

Fish and Aquatics

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).

Operations and Compliance

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

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.

Vegetation and Terrestrial

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.

Water Quality

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.