Thank you, concerned citizen extraordinaire Kathy Hamilton, for finally getting a major media outlet to present the true story. The rest of Ontario's major media proved to be lapdogs for this insane project. Thank God for people like Kathy & for the power of freedom of speech through the internet!
Ontario’s latest electricity scheme: Pumped energy storage
More from Special to Financial Post
Combining the costs of the Mississauga gas plant move with the Oakville move places the total costs of the two moves at the $1.5-billion level.
None of these ideas comes cheap, including pumped electricity storage, a plan making its way through the province’s electric industrial complex. Pumped storage was traditionally used where excess low-cost electricity was available during low-usage periods. The economic logic was that cheap excess power justified the cost of recapturing a portion of the excess for later use.
Ontario Power Generation operates a pumped storage facility near Niagara, built when Ontario anticipated excess nuclear production. Although it wastes one unit of electricity for each unit finally delivered, the storage system reserves some of the nightly water flow over Niagara for daytime use. This time-shifting optimizes power production by the main generators, while maintaining the scenic daytime water flow over Niagara Falls as required under international agreement. If this were stand-alone pumped storage, ratepayers would fare better with it closed.
But a new pumped storage proposal is under active deliberation around the eastern Ontario village of Marmora. The proposal comes from Northland Power for a stand-alone, 400-megawatt pumped storage facility at the abandoned Marmoraton Mine, on property owned by Aecon Construction. Project cost: Somewhere between $660-million and $700-million.
The Marmora project was endorsed by local council members without public notice. With local people in the dark, Northland Power announced it was “very excited to have the support of the people of Marmora.”
The design envisions the former iron ore mine pit becoming the lower reservoir, once most of its existing, spring-fed lake is pumped into an adjacent upper reservoir. The elevated man-made lake would loom above substantial portions of urban Marmora. When Ontario’s grid has excess power, the operator would pump water up from the lower reservoir. During high demand periods, if the upper reservoir is full and water had not filled the lower reservoir, the elevated water could be dropped through reversible turbines.
Recognizing that perverse synergy, the annual conference of the Canadian Wind Energy Association in Toronto this week is twinned with one promoting electricity storage. For Northland Power, also a major wind and solar developer in Ontario, this synergy is a core business strategy.
For ratepayers, none of this is working. Wind and solar are not just unreliable. Ratepayers pay unaffordable prices for their chaotic output. Adding the cost of storage puts ratepayers in double jeopardy.
In 2006, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the government’s electricity planner, considered pumped storage and its alternatives in detail, concluding that they were not justified. Last August the OPA issued an updated cautionary statement on storage, warning the Ontario Energy Board to “focus on fact-based applications of energy storage and not on perceptions.”
The political parties are jockeying for position. The Conservative MPP for the Marmora area, Todd Smith, has his party demanding “the Minister of Energy explain why his Ministry has delayed in arriving at a contract to produce power for the proposed Marmora Pumped Storage project.” Smith has just been promoted by party leader Tim Hudak.
The Liberals, perhaps aware of their falling status as stewards of the energy file, are balking. In mid September, Energy Minister Chiarelli warned that the capital cost of the project is “quite high” while “many of the benefits…can be provided at lower cost by existing…generators.” He said a cautious approach is needed to “protect ratepayers.”
When Ontario PCs issued their policy discussion paper on energy in May last year, they said the “Government must get back to its proper, limited role.” Now, their political energy is pumping in the opposite direction.
Tom Adams is a Toronto-based energy consultant. Kathy Hamilton is a Marmora homeowner.
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Kathy Hamilton has left a new comment on your post "Financial Post (!) exposes Marmora power boondoggl...":
I can't possibly express sufficient gratitude to the editors of the Financial Post, for publishing not only this piece but that precious reader feedback following it online, showing majority "negative" comments about Northland Power's proposal.
What remains unknown is when and how badly the far more sordid story that continues playing out in Marmora will end. I could never have told that one as clearly as the so-called "Marmora Pumped Storage Project" page on the municipality's site has been showing it to the whole world since it first appeared.
Please take time to meet and give your thanks to co-author extraordinaire Tom Adams, one of the most highly principled men I've had the honour and pleasure of knowing:
Posted by Kathy Hamilton to Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens at 14 October 2013 02:28
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