Looking for answers? Here are some of our most commonly asked questions, with answers, related to the Ontario Pumped Storage Project (OPS).
We encourage the community to sign up for a Community Coffee Chat in Meaford at PoweredByMeaford.com. These small, facilitated, local sessions are designed so you can have your say and engage in meaningful conversation about this project and your community.
You can also visit us at our new Community Information Centre at 390 N Sykes St., Meaford, ON N4L 1J4, where you can continue to provide feedback, ask questions and learn more about OPS.
When you told us you wanted our original design enhanced for the preservation of Georgian Bay and the local environment, we used that feedback to make significant project design changes to maximize protection of the ecosystem, the local environment and Georgian Bay.
We are actively monitoring and collecting data to study vegetation, wetlands and wildlife in the area. It helps us refine our design and will serve as the basis for federal and provincial environmental regulatory reviews.
Before we begin construction, the project will undergo rigorous provincial and federal environmental assessments conducted by independent government regulators to fully understand and limit potential environmental, health, social and economic impacts; and we will adhere to all regulatory processes and requirements.
Over the coming years, Ontario’s electricity demand is expected to increase. As we transition away from fossil-fuel power generation we need to work now to make sure our electricity infrastructure can handle that demand. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimates that Ontario needs 5,000 to 15,000 megawatts (MW) of new capacity resources by 2035. When operational, the Ontario Pumped Storage Project will provide 1,000 MW of flexible, clean energy to Ontario’s electricity system — that’s enough to power a million homes for up to eight hours.
Emission-free power generation, such as nuclear, wind and hydro, often generates excess electricity when it’s not needed and does not always generate enough power when consumers need it most. Using water and gravity, this project is effectively a natural battery that will store electricity for when it is needed most. It is a made-in-Meaford solution that will provide clean, reliable, secure and cost-effective electricity for all of Ontario.
The Ontario Pumped Storage Project (OPS) will contribute to a vibrant local economy for Meaford. Built just outside of town, the project will bring many community benefits, including prioritizing local workers, materials, suppliers and services. It will create good jobs for people in town and throughout the region. And that means more customers for local restaurants and small businesses.
This made-in-Ontario Project will provide a lasting local impact through employment, investments in local businesses and the community.
Using water and gravity, this project is effectively a natural battery that will provide clean, reliable, secure and cost-effective electricity for all of Ontario. It will provide 1,000 megawatts (MW) of flexible, clean energy to Ontario’s electricity system by storing electricity in the form of water, pumped from Georgian Bay to an upper reservoir, during periods of low power demand.
The water stored in the upper reservoir is like a giant battery, ready to create energy when it is released back to Georgian Bay, flowing underground through turbines, delivering electricity back to Ontario’s power grid when it is needed most.
We know that the construction of large infrastructure needs to be undertaken with residents in mind, and we are committed to developing and implementing a comprehensive plan that makes sense for your community. Starting with extensive pre-construction community engagement, we will develop noise, air, traffic, infrastructure and other mitigation plans and will ensure that continuous stakeholder feedback will ensure that the plans remain effective as the Project continues to progress.
Yes! TC Energy listened to community members who told us they were concerned about the beauty and habitat of Georgian Bay. We used that valuable feedback to make significant project design enhancements, including:
Absolutely. Since 2020, third-party consultants have been conducting project-specific environmental field studies every season to gather data on water quality and fish and their habitat, and have used these findings — and will continue to use them — to inform the design of the project.
The findings will also be incorporated into the upcoming rigourous and comprehensive provincial and federal environmental and impact assessments that will be conducted by independent government regulators. Throughout these processes, which we expect will occur over several years, there will be extensive opportunities for public and community involvement.
The proximity of OPS to Georgian Bay allows for an open loop system because of the availability of a massive and stable Great Lakes water source. The volume of water that will be moved in and out of Georgian Bay, is a tiny fraction of the available water in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.
We have evaluated the potential for a closed loop lower reservoir and have determined that it would not be feasible for several reasons, including:
In 1907, Switzerland became the first country in the world to store excess energy. That’s more than 100 years that pumped storage has been operating successfully. But just as with computers, phones and cars, pumped storage technology has advanced significantly, and the Ontario Pumped Storage Project is implementing and using the most advanced state-of-the-art technology that is virtually unrecognizable from its predecessors. Several nations continue to develop and incorporate pumped storage into their energy solutions due to its highly reliable, long-life storage benefits, and its effectiveness as a large-scale, long-duration electricity storage solution.
Unlike other electricity storage options, such as lithium-ion batteries, the Ontario Pumped Storage Project is expected to have a lifespan of 100 years, pending refurbishment after about 50 years.
We understand the urgency of protecting fish and the fish habitat and have made significant changes to the design of the inlet/outlet system through which water flows into and out of Georgian Bay. We located the inlet/outlet structures in deep water, about 800 metres away from the shoreline, to avoid important fish and shoreline habitat. The inlet/outlet design also incorporates screens and very slow water movement to prevent fish from entering the structures. We have been conducting extensive seasonal aquatic studies since the fall of 2020 to establish an ideal inlet/outlet location that minimizes exposure to valuable fish habitat, and also ensuring mitigation measures, such as screens and water flows, are effective at protecting fish.
Based on extensive research and when compared with other pumped storage projects around the world, we expect there will be no detectable change in water temperature.
The Ontario Pumped Storage Project does not use water for cooling or to produce steam; it simply uses changes in elevation and gravity to move water to and from Georgian Bay and the upper reservoir without treatment or alteration.
We are conducting comprehensive computer modelling studies to validate that the design avoids negative environmental effects to Georgian Bay. We expect the modelling studies will be complete by 2023 and will share the results, which will be included in the environmental impact assessment for public review and feedback.
The Ontario Pumped Storage Project (OPS) will not create lakebed turbidity because its innovative design ensures water will flow through multiple, raised, deep water lakebed inlet and outlet ports at a very slow speed, similar to Georgian Bay’s natural currents.
Multiple raised inlet/outlet ports are designed to flow water horizontally, 360 degrees, to be consistent with the natural environment and water currents in Georgian Bay, preventing disturbance of lakebed sediment.
Computer modelling and sediment mapping are an important part of our studies, which are being prepared to confirm the water flow patterns will avoid creating turbidity as a result of Project operation. Those studies are expected to be complete in 2023. We will share the results, which will be included in the environmental impact assessment for public review and feedback.
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