Marmora Pumped Storage……….a disaster waiting to happen!

Posted: June 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

As this Province winds it’s way down the Green Energy Toilet and becomes even more loaded with debt, unaffordable electricity and massive scandals involving Green Energy back room buddies and a Government so twisted in it’s own dysfunction that now we just have a “DELETE the EMAILS” type of culture at Queen’s Park!

From large Wind Companies suing citizens over their criticism of those company’s construction methods (Eagles Nest Removal) to Energy Companies  pushing INSANE, COSTLY and basically USELESS ideas on Rural Ontarians one can make the case for a MORATORIUM on all energy projects until some sanity is brought back into our political system, specially at the Municipal level.

Without the citizen’s Municipality’s Councils agreeing to these idiotic plans like the one being mentioned here, there would be no crisis in our Energy Sector.

There is a movement afoot across Ontario’s rural townships where local Councils are now under the microscope of the public and some hard questions are being asked which can only lead to the veil of secrecy behind deals such as this one being torn off!

As you look at the nice shiny picture of this “pumped storage project” being  jammed down Marmora Citizens throats without any public discussion notice that the people’s homes and streets and schools and stores aren’t shown in this picture.

If you visit this town this summer you will notice that under the massive dam lies the town of Marmora.

Get there quick before it’s built because once it is…the whole damn town will become a Disaster Area!…………’ve seen the OPP ad where the copper near the Hydro dam  says “Stay Back?”………………well if he was in Marmora he would be saying …….“Stay Out”!


“Marmora Pumped Storage”

4. Marmora Pumped Storage: A simulated waterfall five times the height of Niagara Falls will be used to store and generate electricity.

How it works: Surplus electricity drawn from Ontario’s grid will be used to pump water from a lower reservoir (a former mining pit in Marmora, Ont.) to an upper reservoir, which acts as a giant battery. When the power is needed, the water will fall back down into the lower reservoir, passing through generators. It will be able to supply 400 MW of electricity at a time—enough to power 40,000 homes.

Why it’s a game changer: It would be the largest pumped storage plant of its kind in Canada and the first to repurpose an old mining site. John Wright, executive director of business development for the company behind the project, Northland Power, says it will also bring jobs and tourism to Marmora. “It’s sort of a dream project.”

Status: Northland is currently awaiting a contract from the provincial government. If that falls into place, it will take another year and a half to secure necessary permits plus four years of construction.

Cost: $700 million

  1. […] a tough green pill to swallow after hearing her boss has embraced this crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat Pumped Storage development in Marmora […]

  2. Hi Pristine Superior,

    I’m grateful to know somebody is still paying attention, even though there was no “reply” button for me to comment back on that article you posted, directly. Should you ever want more of the “finer details” substantiated with evidence, my contact info is on my site linked to my name above.

  3. […] OR could the promise of massive amounts of money being sucked out of Ontario consumers pockets lead to hypocrisy and destructive decisions by politicians when any developer comes up with a scheme like the Marmora Pumped Storage project by Northland Power. […]

  4. […] Marmora is facing a complete “sell-out” by their own Council to Northland Power for a few shekels and a hand shake and here we have a Ryerson student advocating how great it will be! […]

  5. Paul Kuster says:

    Whenever the talk of storage comes up, I always direct them to this;

    where math and physics take care of another stupid wet dream.

    • Pristine Superior says:

      “Britain could, for example, get 60 kWh per day per person by building wind farms with an area equal to Wales (which would deliver on average 20 kWh per day per person) and a hundred more nuclear power stations (which would deliver 40 kWh per day per person).

      I am not pro-wind or pro-nuclear: I am just pro-arithmetic.

      We need an energy plan that adds up. It is not going to be easy, but it is possible.

      BBC Radio 4’s More or Less is broadcast on Friday, 23 April at 1330 BST and repeated on Sunday, 25 April at 2000 GMT. ”

      Maybe University of Cambridge Professor David MacKay is “pro-arithmetic” but his comparison of wind farms on an area equivalent to Wales with a hundred more nuclear stations seems to indicate he is not pro-logic and his math exercises should be viewed in that light.

      His math on electric cars/fossil fuel cars over-simplifies. The only way electric cars are not fossil cars is if they are nuclear, hydro or “unreliables”.

      Not saying he is wrong on storage just not happy to accept everything he says unquestioningly.

      Marmora pumped storage is crime against LOGIC. Building in a flood plain is idiotic and the government should actually prevent people from doing so; actually turning a town into a “flood plain disaster” waiting to happen is treachery.

    • Yes, Paul, that “Do the math” piece on pumped storage basis makes for a great study, for those willing. I posted a link to it near the top of my Intro page, around the time a wee local protest was attempted Oct 25, 2012. Many too afraid to show publicly.
      One of our Reeve’s memorable comments in follow-up, in a CBC video of Nov 7, 2012:
      “We have not been able to find one party who do not think it’s a good project.”

      Reminders of similar Aug 7, 2012 reaction to requests for an open public meeting/ debate:
      It starts ~4:50 mark. No public meeting, no questions answered…will have a meeting when proponents have an announcement to give the people. A couple of men who followed my attempt (this time) got no further.

      This is what Agenda 21/ Sustainable Development implementation sounds like, at the local government level target. Always.

      No matter which “action plan” is the current local implementation focus. What you’ve heard is merely one of multiple running concurrently. The “strategic planning process” for proponent success rarely varies. Same process stripping equal representation and private property rights everywhere, names of “stakeholder” groups differ with “action plan” and “objective” specifics.

      Thank you for caring, too – few will not face the same, sooner or later – worldwide, sadly.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Heads Up, Big Green Lie! This should be juicy!
    I just heard that the mom and homeowner in Marmora, whose site you linked to, is planning on presenting a critique of this Macleans farce on Orion Network’s “Canada Live” radio talk show, live online Sunday, June 9 2013 – the day after tomorrow! TUNE IN AT 12:00 NOON sharp!
    Listen in to the show live, online, from Orion’s home page:
    Follow the live interactions between show participants/ listeners and links related to the discussion, on the Canada Live chat page:
    If you miss it, archived podcasts for all Orion shows are available for listening or download in one-hour segments, here:

    If you didn’t already hear her telling the whole sordid story, during the Canada Live shows Nov 25 and Dec 2 2012 – the archived YouTube podcast combining both shows is here:

    • Although I’ve had no professional training in this field, some might also enjoy my public info-sharing foray into Ontario planning reforms prior to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act’s icing on the central “energy” planning cake – starting about the 1:20 mark, here:

      First-hand, personal experience, battling the central planning “special process” for “balancing” mutually-exclusive individual vs collective “interests” in private property:

      Related questions submitted to local council May 1, 2012:

      • Pristine Superior says:

        From Spiegel on the German “model” of how not to run a grid:

        The Storage Conundrum

        The Cossebaude reservoir is Dresden’s largest and most popular open-air pool. On summer days, up to 8,000 sunbathers lounge on its sandy beach or cool off in the 10,000-square-meter (2.5-acre) lake.

        Cossebaude is also part of the enormous Niederwartha pumped storage hydroelectric plant. At night or on weekends, when there is plenty of available power, lake water is pumped electrically through big pipes into a second reservoir 140 meters above the main reservoir. At noon, when electricity is scarce, the water is released from the higher-elevation reservoir, spinning giant turbines as it descends. The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference. When the plant was connected to the grid in November 1929, it was considered the technology of the future.

        Now the power plant, along with the recreational lake attached to it, could soon be gone. The company plans to shut down the energy storage facility within the next two years. This is bad news for Dresden’s swimmers, but it’s especially detrimental to Germany’s energy transition, which depends on backup power plants like the Niederwartha facility.

        When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.

        This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.

        When it’s sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. “Price peaks that last only a few hours aren’t enough to utilize the plant to full capacity,” says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s German hydro division.

        No Incentives for Storage

        Not surprisingly, the company invests very little in its pumped storage plants today. In Niederwartha, the buildings are filled with the musty smell of earlier floods, the paint is peeling from the walls and the reservoir leaks.

        It would cost Vattenfall €150 million to modernize the plant. But company executives are hesitant, fearing they won’t recoup that money with future profits. Vattenfall has also hit the brakes elsewhere, like in Hamburg suburb of Geesthacht. Plans to increase the capacity of the existing reservoir there have been put on hold. Instead, the plant is used only as a backup.

        Meanwhile, competitors RWE and EnBW have also shelved plans to build a large pumped storage power station in the southern Black Forest. Trianel, an association of about 100 municipal utilities, withdrew from a similar project at Rursee Lake in the western Eifel Mountains in late June.

        All this gives credence to the claim that Germany’s energy reform is its own worst enemy. Despite the erratic expansion of wind and solar projects, the backup power capacity those projects require is lacking. One study found that Germany’s expansion of renewable energy will require additional storage capacity for 20 to 30 billion kilowatt-hours by 2050. So far the storage capacity has grown by little more than 70 million kilowatt-hours. And hardly anyone is interested in maintaining the existing storage facilities.

        At least that isn’t the case in Dresden, where a grassroots movement is working to keep the old pumped storage facility open — partly because of the popular swimming lake.

      • Excerpt #1 from article posted by Pristine Superior on Sept 6 @9:27am:
        ” The system generates electricity when the cost is high and consumes it when the cost is low. Plant operator Vattenfall makes its profit on the difference.”

        This will NOT be the case for wily Northland Power, if they get the 40 year contract they’ve been dreaming of – for “Marmora” to be “capable of running” (ie: paid to merely be on perpetual stand-by to generate the peak electricity Ontario doesn’t need – redundantly to the gas plants capable of supplying additional peak electricity and already being paid to not operate at capacity)
        Evidence references and relevant quotes:
        #1: Thu Jun 30 2011 “Mining for megawatts in Marmora” by John Spears, Toronto Star:
        “Rather than negotiating a rate per kilowatt hour of power produced, Northland would prefer to negotiate a regular fee that would see it recover its costs, plus a 10 or 11 per cent return, over 40 years.”
        #2: February 22, 2013 telephone conference podcast where Northland Power executives answered questions from energy analysts employed by investment firms, as was afterward publicized on Northland Power’s site at,%202013.mp3
        – start listening at the 25:45 mark into this podcast, to hear a Northland Power executive dancing around one caller’s confusion at his inability to compare this project to any “renewable” and Northland’s admittance that they want “Marmora” to be paid “to be capable of running”

        Excerpt #2 from article posted by Pristine Superior on Sept 6 @9:27am:
        “…a grassroots movement is working to keep the old pumped storage facility open — partly because of the popular swimming lake.”

        In our case, there will be no bodies of water created by this project, that would be suitable and safe for any recreational use by humans. As a matter of fact, the gorgeous lake that has filled the abandoned mine pit from underground streams/springs and long attracted photographers/ tourists to the lookout will be mostly drained (and need be kept mostly drained) to accomodate the dumping of water back into its enclosed space that’s the intended “lower reservoir” – therefore, all there will be to look at in future would be the rock sidewalls and a virtual puddle in the bottom.

        Please note that the proponents never mention the fact that the Official Plan for Hastings County identifies the Marmoraton Mine as “Environmentally Sensitive”, nor say why, how and when this protective designation is to be removed so Northland can drain the lake where birds now flock and dive for food. Additionally, Northland Power’s claim that this project would be a “closed loop” system is defied by the fact that 20 millions of water monthly had to be pumped out of the pit to enable its mining.
        Moreover…Marmora is already surrounded by trails, natural lakes and rivers, which would continue to be its main tourist and recreational attractions.

        All this said, there could likely be a greater argument for this project being justified to shift traditional baseload generation than there is as backup for intermittent renewables like wind and solar – IF the additional peak electricity was needed, which it isn’t and further “conservation” initiatives will make even less likely. However, in order to flog this “sort of a dream” as a “Green Energy” project to the gullible public, politicians and press, the proponent’s choice was obviously to attempt justifying this project as primarily a means to “manage wind” (rather than shut off the windmills they’ll additionally profit from).
        Fortunately for those of us whose lives and homes would confront potential catastrophic flooding from the proposed upper reservoir, Ontario’s provincial decision-makers appear less gullible to date.

      • Pristine Superior says:

        “Ontario’s provincial decision-makers appear less gullible to date.”

        In agreement on pretty much everything you have said but I can’t get by that one without laughing…cynically.

        They may just not have agreed on a way to share the loot…

  7. Anonymous says:

    You’re absolutely right, Big Green Lie. The gullible public and press are the ones dozing. That graphic is just as phony as the sales pitch.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pgs style generation is reliable and cost effective, come on big green lie, wake up!

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