The proposed site for the compressed air storage facility. (Provided by Bedrock Energy Corporation)

Bedrock Energy's Compressed Air Storage Facility: What does it mean?

Bedrock Energy Corporation has approached the Municipality of Bluewater with a proposal for a compressed air storage facility on Goshen Line.

The facility would be an estimated 120 acres, subject to change. That number will be finalized as plans continue to develop.

"What we do is we take off-peak power when the generation is high and demand for the energy is low," said Tanya Mackie, Director of Project Management with Bedrock Energy. "We use the surplus energy taken off the grid and we use it to store air beneath the earth's surface in two underground reservoirs."

When demand is high, that air will be released to turn turbines and put the energy back into the grid.

There will be pipes underground connecting the Bayfield site, along Mill Road, and the Stanley site, along Bronson Line, back to the main storage facility on Goshen Line.

"The reservoirs themselves, they're about 500 metres deep," said Mackie. "Equate it visually to the size of the First Canadian Place tower in downtown Toronto. The Bayfield location is about 100 buildings and Stanley is about 55."

Mackie explained that there's a reason Bluewater was chosen for the project.

"A reason we are located here on top of the two reservoirs, is that we're directly adjacent to a Hydro One 500KV powerline," she said. "We're right next to the grid and putting the power right into the grid. We're far enough along the feasibility stage with them to know that this is a good possibility for them."

The facility site is in Bev Hill's field, who admitted he had mixed feelings at first.

"I had some misgivings initially, I was concerned that it was going to be another part of the Green Energy Act, that in my mind, is an unmitigated disaster," said Hill. "I was concerned if the government was involved, we were going to be producing something that we didn't need and was going to make us less competitive."

Hill said he has been assured there's no ratepayer or taxpayer funding involved in the project.

"As it stands now, I'm supportive of the project," said Hill. "I think we're going to be producing something that's needed and it's going to be produced in a way that's economically justifiable."

Mackie said she understands the public's concerns, understanding it's all new technology.

"We've been fortunate to work with landowners who have offered their land for this and working through 13 different site plan iterations to try and minimize the impacts on waterways and forests," Mackie added.

Addressing the concerns for the farmland, Hill said the land will still be usable.

"That part of the farm where the land isn't being used will be farmed," he said. "But, if it's us farming it, we won't be farming as many acres as we were."

He did, however, make it clear that he was approached for this project. He did not offer his land.

Other concerns about the facility expressed at a recent Councillor's Corner, held by Bayfield Councillor Bill Whetstone, were regarding the unknown of the company and what it would look like if the project gets decommissioned.

"It's definitely helped me from a councillor perspective to hear what the public is thinking about the project," said Whetstone. "We really need to understand and spend time on this and make sure whatever decision we make, is the right decision for Bluewater."

In a conversation with, Mackie spoke about what would happen if the project is decommissioned.

"The current lifespan is expected to be about 40 years," said Mackie. "It's hard to say what could happen, but the project could be fully decommissioned and removed if that is the desire."

In a predominantly rural area, adding more bricks and mortar to the mix is a rather large concern for residents.

At the time of discussion with Whetstone, no decision had been made.

"At this point in time, council has made no decision on this because there's some information that we've requested from Bedrock and we expect to get that information," said Whetstone. "We're moving very slow on this to make sure that we dot the i's, cross the t's, and that we hear from the public to make sure that we have a full understanding of what the public is thinking."

Hill agreed, that although he currently is supportive, nothing will be agreed to without the majority of the municipality and every involved landowner all in favour. He has asked to make his decision last to ensure this. Hill also said the project will not be done without sufficient compensation.

"We're not doing it out of the goodness of our heart," said Hill. "We're not trying to be a knight in shining armour by any means. We're interested from a personal financial perspective."

Whetstone acknowledged both the benefits and the drawbacks when speaking.

"Looking at it as a whole, unless certain things are covered, I personally won't be supporting the project," said Whetstone. "One thing I suggested was that unless 100 per cent of the landowners are in agreement of where the project is going to be, then I won't support the project myself. But that's only me and I don't represent all other council members."

Residents are encouraged to reach out with comments, questions, and concerns to council and Bedrock. Whetstone said the biggest thing is members of the municipality need to be open about their opinions on the project and share that, whether positive or negative. He added that council has requested copies of what is sent to Bedrock from Bluewater residents.

To view the virtual meeting held by Bedrock Energy Corporation earlier this year in May, click here.

An open house will also be held on July 25. More information on that to come.

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