TBM councillor withdraws 2nd motion opposing pumped storage project

For the time being, a councillor for the Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) has withdrawn a resolution opposing the pumped storage energy proposal in Meaford.

At a recent meeting, Coun. Paula Hope pulled her resolution that, if passed, would have stated the town’s strong opposition to the controversial energy generation project proposed on military base lands in the Municipality of Meaford.

It would have been the second motion of its kind before TBM council, which on Dec. 18, 2023 supported, in principle, a move by the Township of Archipelago opposing the pumped storage project.

Hope's resolution, however, will return at a future council meeting.

Her motion stated:

“Whereas the pristine, clean, clear, sparkling waters and pine-strewn shoreline of Georgian Bay are critical to the health, well-being and economic welfare of the residents and visitors to the Town of The Blue Mountains;

And whereas the Town of The Blue Mountains is not willing to risk its unique ecosystem and economy for a project that may create unintended consequences for questionable gain;

Be it resolved that the Town of The Blue Mountains is strongly opposed to the TCE Pumped Storage Project.”

In a brief interview, Hope said she pulled the resolution before it was considered by council because more data about the proposed pumped storage project will be coming forward for council to consider.

“I’m aware of more information coming I think that needs to be heard by members of council,” said Hope.

She said she plans to bring the resolution opposing the project back to the council table in the near future.

Hope’s move came a few days after TBM resident Jeremy Wentworth-Stanley made a presentation to Grey County council questioning the financial viability of the pumped storage proposal.

Hope and coun. June Porter attended the county meeting for Wentworth-Stanley’s presentation.

In his presentation, which came two weeks after county council passed a resolution offering conditional support to the pumped storage project, Wentworth-Stanley – a former financial advisor – questioned the financial viability of the proposal.

He said the pumped storage project would rely on selling electricity to the grid when prices were high and using electricity when prices were low. He said the math wouldn’t add up over time as electricity prices equalize.

“That curve is flattening out. We will be using electricity on a 24-hour basis,” said Wentworth Stanley. “I think the project, frankly, should be shelved.”

Sara Beasley, the communications lead for the pumped storage project, said the proposal must demonstrate that it is financially feasible before it proceeds.

“The project must demonstrate that it is cost-effective before it moves forward. To ensure that it is cost-effective, the Minister of Energy has requested more information about the project, as outlined in a January 9, 2024 letter from the Ministry of Energy to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO),” Beasley said in an email. “The process that the Minister outlines in that letter will ensure that the scenario Mr. Wentworth-Stanley presents cannot, in fact, materialize.”

Beasley also said the company was pleased by Hope’s decision to postpone the resolution opposing the project.

“We are encouraged that councillor Hope withdrew her resolution on the basis of requiring further information. We look forward to working with council and staff to provide project information and welcome the opportunity to provide a further deputation to council,” she said.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca