Wind Concerns Ontario is a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to provide information on the potential impact of industrial-scale wind power generation on the economy, human health, and the natural environment.
Noise abatement plan accepted, but what does it really mean?
March 19, 2018
Port Elgin residents forced to live near the single wind turbine operated by the union Unifor, which has resulted in hundreds of noise complaints since the moment it began operating, were “vindicated” recently when the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) announced that noise testing revealed the turbine was not in compliance with regulations.
See a report from CTV London reporter Scott Miller, here.
The MOECC told Unifor that as the turbine operator, they would have to put a noise abatement plan in place by today.
Wind Concerns Ontario has learned that the plan was submitted and has been approved by the Ministry. Noise testing will now continue, said MOECC District Manager Rick Chappell, to confirm compliance with regulations. The Ministry expects the new Imissions Audit or I-audit by the end of June.
Port Elgin resident Greg Schmalz says the admission of non-compliance is vindication for residents who have been complaining for years, but the fight is not over. And many serious questions remain.
“If ongoing tests show non-compliance for a second time, does that result in the MOECC permanently revoking the operating certificate?” he asks. “Will resident complaints filed during the abatement period and ongoing testing be confirmed, or do they not count? And why did it take so long from report dates to release [of the information]?”
The engineering report was filed with the MOECC in January, and the MOECC did not announce the status of non-compliance until March … and then to the wrong municipality.
Documents received by Wind Concerns Ontario via Freedom of Information requests show that the MOECC received 236 reports of excessive noise up to the end of 2014, and more during the 2015-2016 time period. People complained of noise “like a helicopter” overhead, and of sleep disturbance at night, which in turn produced other health effects.
Read the report by engineering consultant firm HGC here.
Owen Sound District Manager for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Rick Chappell told West Grey Council and a packed room of citizens today that the controversial single wind turbine in Port Elgin owned and operated by Unifor, is not compliant with provincial noise regulations.
A noise abatement plan has been ordered by the Ministry and must be in place by March 18.
The Unifor turbine has resulted in hundreds of complaints of excessive noise over the years, several TV news stories, and statements from the local municipality to the effect that the MOECC is failing in its role as a regulator.
West Grey Council, which had asked Chappell to appear to answer questions about why wind turbine noise complaints were not being resolved, accepted the news, and one councilor demanded that the MOECC now personally call everyone who had filed a report, and give them the news.
Councillors remarked that the decision to test the Unifor wind turbine noise output was the result of citizen complaints; a councilor advised residents to “keep complaining.”
Wind Concerns Ontario has reports provided by the MOECC that show 236 reports were filed up to the end of 2014. In the years 2009-2014, over half of the noise reports received by the MOECC got no response.
Representatives of three community groups where wind turbine projects are currently under construction, addressed the Wind Concerns Ontario conference in Kingston this past weekend, and told hair-raising stories of violations of Renewable Energy Approvals, disobedience of municipal orders, ignoring conditions of road use agreements, and more.
The White Pines project was originally planned to produce electricity for Ontario’s surplus-laden power grid via 29 huge wind turbines. A successful appeal based on heritage aspects of The County reduced the turbine number to 27; another appeal (Hirsch v. MOECC) was partially successful and saw the project reduced from 27 to 9 turbines, based on harm to endangered species.
“We had been operating under the belief that having to meet the 75 percent of power requirement in the contract with the IESO [Independent Electricity System Operator] actually meant something,” said Walsh. “It turns out, it doesn’t. Contracts don’t mean anything — they can do whatever they want.”
Dumbrille echoed that with a litany of abuses. The White Pines project is way past its specified commercial operation date, she said, which should mean the IESO could terminate the contract, but it hasn’t. “The Long Stop Date has no meaning or relevance, despite being in the regulations,” she said. “The decision appears to be political.”
The public also expected that while the power project was being appealed, construction work would not be allowed, particularly in the areas presented as habitat for the endangered Blandings turtle, but in fact, both the MOECC and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry allowed it. Only when citizens took action in court was a stop work order achieved.
“Why must citizen groups rather than government protect habitat destruction?” Dumbrille asked.
The land clearing in turtle habitat continued after the appeal for the nine remaining turbines outside the limits imposed by the Environmental Review Tribunal. Again, citizens went to court, and again a stop order was issued, but not before habitat was destroyed. A transmission station is planned to be built in a stream bed which is against regulations and will require the taking of water. Again, the MOECC appears to side with the power developer on all issues.
“All the rules are made to be broken,” said Dumbrille, “to benefit the wind power developer. And the public has no right to information, apparently.”
Janet Grace, past chair of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), described numerous violations of the Renewable Energy Approval, road use agreements, and provincial safety regulations by “Windlectric” a shell company developing a power project on the island for Algonquin Power. Construction staff and vehicles are supposed to be using a barge to get to the island, she said, but they’re not: instead, they use the passenger ferry which is resulting in delays for Island residents, many of whom work across the water in KIngston, and concerns about safety.
Roads are blocked without notice, and construction throughout the winter has virtually destroyed roads, so much so that the municipality Loyalist Township issued a stop work order. Resident photographs indicate however, that the order was ignored, with the power developer construction firm continuing work. In addition, Grace said, the company is supposed to stop work at 7 PM, but in reality is working until 11 PM.
“The sad thing is, Grace said, “we know this is just the beginning of what is being done to our Island. There are rules being broken, and violations … the MOECC gives them exemptions. They’re just getting away with it all.”
Being asked to do a presentation at Wind Concerns Ontario’s annual conference this past Saturday, to describe the costs associated with industrial wind turbines was something I relished!
The presentation I developed used IESO information for 2017.
Discovered in the preparation of my presentation was the fact that that nuclear and hydro power alone could have supplied over 100% of all grid-connected consumption for 2017, at a average cost of about 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
The cost for Class B ratepayers in 2017 however, was almost double, coming in at 11.55 cents per kwh.
So why the big jump? Have a look at the presentation to see why and look at Slide 6 in particular where you get an inkling of how IESO view the reliability of industrial wind generation in their forward planning process!
Court finds an established association between annoyance (used as a medical term) and some diseases that result from prolonged stress
Pathway to Disease: Australian court links wind turbine noise with possible diseases Hamilton Spectator
15 February 2018
In a World first, Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has declared that the “noise annoyance” caused by wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound “is a plausible pathway to disease”.
At the AAT hearing in Adelaide, the impacts of wind farm noise were considered by a senior Federal Court judge; the most thorough medial and scientific inquiry on the subject matter conducted in Australia to date.
The Tribunal’s findings were based on the “established association between noise annoyance and some diseases, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease, possibly mediated in part by disturbed sleep and/or psychological stress/distress”.
In its summary, and with unanimous support from relevant experts, AAT found that there were numerous recorded instances of wind turbine noise exceeding 40 dB(A) — a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance.
“Even if it is not audible, low-frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood,” the summary reads.
“Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus -like symptoms.”
It was also established that the current method adopted by windfarms to measure noise — the dB(A) scale was not suitable for the task, because a significant proportion of sound emitted by wind turbines is in the lower frequency range, where the scale cannot accurately identify the presence of frequencies or the peaks and troughs of their occurrence.
Instead, the dB(A) scale averages out the sound levels, masking the occurrence that could be causing harmful health side-effects.
The dB(A) weighting system is the basis of every wind turbine noise guideline in operation throughout the world.
With majority support from relevant experts, the Tribunal found that the most accurate way of determining the level and type of sound present at a particular location is to measure the sound at that location.
In conclusion, AAT noted the World Health Organisation stance that there is “sufficient evidence from large-scale epidemiological studies linking the populations exposure to environmental noise with adverse health effects”.
A Moyne shire resident living next to the MacArthur windfarm outlined the health impacts she has experienced since the wind farms were established.
“Severe ear pressure and pain, it’s actually in the inner ear; head pressure and headaches; my heart goes bananas, my whole body burns, and I feel sick,” she said.
“And (the symptoms) just come back immediately when in direct proximity to low-frequency emissions, it can happen anywhere, and it’s not just mild, it’s really debilitating.”
AGL started the consultation process with the community surrounding the proposed Willatook windfarm, raising concerns from residents about the proliferation of turbines in the area.
Community members met with South West Coast MP Roma Britnell over the weekend to voice concerns.
“Really (the meeting) centred around the fact that they will be surrounded, some of them, by the wind farms,” Ms Britnell said.
“They felt that it was a cluster effect and that it was unfair, that just because the power line goes through one area, they shouldn’t have to be the ones to had to take all the load of the 220-metre from tip- two-base structures in their backyard.”
Ms Britnell expressed no strong opinion in favour or against wind energy, simply saying we need to “get it right”.
“I am all for getting the renewable energy balance right, and wind is part of the solution, but wind is not the answer where there is no ability to store it,” Ms Britnell said.
“I’m afraid I still can’t meet the demand for supply when I want to milk my cows or have my shower when the wind isn’t blowing.
“Wind is not meeting the baseload and the biggest restriction I hear from community members is the supply issue, and that’s what the government is really not addressing.”
Tony Edney, director of the water foundation — an advocacy group for properly conducted, multidisciplinary research into health problems reported by people living in the vicinity of wind turbines and other industrial uses — told the Spectator that not every windfarm would necessarily generate problems.
“The location, topography, layout and design of the installation of factors that combine with climactic conditions to produce sound generating profiles of potential harm for some receiver sites,” Mr Edney said.
“And not everyone is adversely affected by wind farm noise. It is in part a matter of individual sensitivity or propensity, think of seasickness, and how we are not impacted equally by that malaise.”
Mr Edney said it was “simply no longer possible” for the industry to say that its technology was “clean, green and completely harmless”.
“Country people deserve to know what exactly they are dealing with when talk starts up about our windfarm proposed for their district,” Mr Edney said. Hamilton Spectator