“Pumped Storage Project” in Marmora being rammed through against any “dissent”

Posted: November 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

The town of Marmora Ontario in Hastings County may be the poster child of all that’s wrong with a Political/Green Investor oriented Government at both the Municipal and Provincial levels of power!

For years now, Northland Power with the assistance of members of Marmora’s Municipal Council and the Liberal Government, has basically FORCED this project through against any and all opposition not to mention all that’s wrong with the Provincial Green Energy Act!

Almost all opposition has come from a Marmora resident who has seen through this fog of disinformation since it’s inception!

To see the massive research behind this opposition and a bird’s eye view of all that’s gone into this “David and Goliath” battle go to:

The Un-Citizens of Marmaro and Lake

The following post showing how massively outrageous and expensive this insane development really is, not only timely, but should serve to enlighten all Ontario Citizens about how really corrupted this Province has become!

Parker Gallant: Pumped storage equals pumped energy prices

(November 18, 2013) As Hans and Franz of SNL fame used to say, “we want to pump you up,” and that appears to be what Northland Power Inc. want to do with a water-filled abandoned iron ore mine in Marmora, Ontario.

Northland Power’s June 30, 2013 three month report indicates they are pumping up their revenue per megawatt hour (MWh) and generated earnings of $169.71 per MWh, up from $116.05 per MWh in the comparable three months of 2012. And it now appears that Northland are determined to “pump that up” even more with their proposal to turn the abandoned Bethlehem Steel iron ore mine in Marmora into a pumped storage facility.

They have managed to garner the support of the local council and the current Energy Minister, Bob Chiarelli, along the way, although the latter’s support was gathered just prior to his current Ministerial appointment to the Energy chair. At the time he sent the January 17, 2013 letter of support to former Energy Minister Chris Bentley, Chiarelli was Minister of Infrastructure. Northland have a cadre of five hired consulting companies registered with the Ontario Lobbyist Registry to ensure they can influence the gullible Liberal party.

Northland Power trades on the TSX “Top 100” with a price of $16.52 per share (October 31, 2013), pays a dividend equivalent to 6.5% of its value at a price earning (PE) multiple of 31.8, signalling that the company is regarded highly by investors for their future earnings potential. Northland count John Turner, former Liberal Prime Minister (for 79 days), amongst others, as a director.

Northland recently held an investors meeting to announce their third quarter results and discuss the way forward. The podcast is available on their website and is almost three hours long but the most interesting part is the Q&A starting at 2.31.30. There were several questions related to the Marmora plans and some interesting answers.

What this writer gleaned from the responses to the questions was that all three parties have endorsed the project and it is simply a question of the government taking a “political step” to move it forward. One response said that Minister Chiarelli would likely put a requirement for 1,000 MW of “pumped storage” in his upcoming revision to the Long-Term Energy Plan. The planned investment according to a Northland spokesperson was “pushing $1 billion” and went on to say “Marmora will happen”. We should all find the remark that “IESO want it” alarming however as that implies our system operator may have serious concerns about managing the grid with all of the intermittent supply coming from wind and solar generation.

Visiting the municipalities website promoting this project you find videos, testimonials, support letters, etc. etc.,  extolling its virtues but information on the actual plan are, to say the least, sketchy!

The Toronto Star published an article that provides hints on its magnitude however, and information that goes beyond the hyperbole found in either the township’s or Northland Power’s site. The following is a summary of the facts that can be gathered in order to determine its viability:

Facts found/claims made:

  1. Capital costs will be a minimum of $660 million up to a possible $750 million.
  2. The rated capacity of the pumped storage facility is 400 megawatts (MW)
  3. The unit will have the capability of providing 400 MWs of power for a period of 5 hours.
  4. The unit will require 6 hours to pump the water back to the reservoir.
  5. There will be 45 permanent jobs created.
  6. Northland are looking for a 10/11% return over 40 years.
  7. The unit will “soak up” cheap surplus power on “very windy nights” when production is high and demand is low.
  8. Power from Marmora will cost less than other forms of peaking power, including natural gas.

It is the latter claim that should be disputed first. It appears to be a contrived calculation (as are all of the renewable related “cost” claims) which we would hope our elected politicians appreciate.

So, in order to deal with the last “Fact/Claim” we need to look at the above eight points to determine the overall costs of producing power that will “cost less than other forms of peaking power” presumably  including “unregulated hydro” produced by Ontario Power Generation (OPG). According to OPG’s “Fact Sheet” unregulated hydro generated in the six months ended June 30, 2013 earned them 2.8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Northland may have trouble competing with that price but let’s look at what they have told us to determine approximately how much pumped storage will cost. To do this we must make some assumptions which are:


a)  We will assume a “total capital cost” of $700 million dollars.

b)  We will assume that “equity” will represent 30% of the total cost meaning equity will be $210 million.

c)  We will assume that financing will be arranged for $490 million at an interest rate of 6% amortized over 40 years but will simplify to only estimating interest charges.

d)  We will assume the targeted “Return on Equity” (ROE) is 11%.

e)  We will assume the pumped storage unit will run every 2nd day (unlikely) each year and produce 2,000 megawatt hours (2 million kWh) of electricity each run.

f)  We will assume it will take 6 hours to replenish the reservoir and Northland will use 3,000 MWh for that process every 2nd day.

g)  We will assume permanent staff will earn an average of $75K each per year including benefits.

h)  We assume Northland would qualify under the Stream 2 OPA program (new investment over $250 million for existing Ontario based companies) pricing purchased electricity at the hourly Ontario energy price (HOEP) eliminating the Global Adjustment costs.


  1. Given its direct connection to Industrial Wind Turbine proliferation and issues, why is it that all politicians and political parties have failed to invite or engage in public discussions on Northland Power’s nutty pumped storage proposal and what Northland Power could most predictably generate, following gov’t provision of their sought 40-yr contract “to be capable of running”?

    Perhaps your readers would consider this two-step solution for mitigating Northland Power’s potential creation of catastrophic local flooding and further economic impoverishment for all Ontario electricity consumers, as has been proposed by people living right in Marmora since 2011 – then ask all politicians why they haven’t yet publicly discussed or proposed the same thing:

    First: the “upper reservoir” must be built on a properly prepared ground surface and foundation, ideally of modern roller-compacted concrete construction, and be located on the east/south-east side of the mine pit – as opposed to Northland Power’s proposal of the upper reservoir being created by merely re-shaping and lining the existing waste rock pile located on the west side, adjacent to lower-elevation urban businesses and homes;
    Secondly: Northland Power would be paid the same rate of return provided for large-scale hydro-electric generation in Ontario – if and whenever they actually re-generate any of the grid-supplied electricity they have stored and feed it back to the grid.

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