Thousands exposed to wind turbine noise in Ontario: Wind Concerns Ontario survey

Home in Huron County surrounded by turbines, many within 1500m –setbacks inadequate [Photo Gary Moon]
April 4, 2019

In a recent meeting with senior officials in the Ontario Ministry of Health, members of Wind Concerns Ontario executive were told that “not that many people” are affected by wind turbines in Ontario.

We launched a research project to estimate the numbers of people now forced to live with wind turbines and discovered:

THOUSANDS Ontario citizens are living near turbines, and inside turbine arrays in wind power generation projects.

Going back over project documents and wind power developer noise impact estimates, we learned that in fact, there are over 30,000 homes located within 1,500 metres of a wind turbine in Ontario. Applying a conservative figure of 2.5 people per residence, that means that 91,300 people are exposed to the highest levels of noise, vibration and other wind turbine noise emissions.

In other words, the number of people being exposed to wind turbine noise is equivalent to the population of the City of Pickering.

“This puts an end to the notion that there are only a few people in Ontario living next to these industrial power generators,” says Jane Wilson, RN, president of the Wind Concerns Ontario community group coalition. “We know from the calls and emails we get that there are many people in Ontario suffering from exposure to the noise. At a minimum, they have sleepless nights from the noise they can hear. At worst, they have other problems including severe headaches, vertigo and cardiovascular symptoms.

“This is a major public health problem that is being ignored.”

Wind turbine noise regulations* only apply to homes within 1,500 metres; the government has assumed that beyond this distance, people will not experience any effects of wind turbine noise emissions.

Records of noise complaints dispute this, however, and even the poorly designed Health Canada report on wind turbine noise indicates that problems persist beyond the 1,500-metre distance.

So, what does that mean in terms of the likelihood of adverse health impacts from the noise produced by the huge power generators?

Strong health impacts

According to a paper published in 2012 by the Acoustic Ecology Institute, “up to 20 percent of nearby neighbours [of turbines] are strongly impacted with sleep disruption, stress issues, and their sense of home and place is forever changed.” The paper notes that some impacts may be “extreme” and result in noticeable changes to health status.

The Ontario government was aware of this very early on in its wind power program, when a report by consultants under contract to the McGuinty government contained this statement:

“The audible sound from wind turbines is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed.** As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound for wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress-related health impacts in some persons …”

Today, the Ontario government has records of thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and vibration, which are largely unresolved. In a review of Master Incident Reports prepared by Provincial Environmental Officers, Wind Concerns Ontario discovered that 35 percent of the files contained notations from the officers about adverse health effects from the noise emissions reported.

Burden on healthcare system

Many people seek medical attention for the symptoms being experienced due to the exposure to wind turbine noise, and often have many interactions with our healthcare system. For example, one member of one family reported multiple visits to the family physician who arranged both MRI and CT scans and consultations with audiology, ear, nose and throat, as well as neurology specialists. The cost to the healthcare system to investigate the physical effects of exposure to wind turbine noise in just one person is considerable.

The Nation Rise power project in North Stormont will add hundreds more people exposed to wind turbine noise, with virtually every resident in a nearby hamlet living within 1,500 metres of a turbine. The project is being appealed currently to Environment Minister Rod Phillips.

 

Sample of Ontario wind power projects and the number of receptors within 1,500 metres

Project # of turbines # of “receptors”/houses # of People
Melancthon 1 and 2 133 3,286 8,214
Grand Bend 48 2.527 6,318
South Kent 124 2,138 2,138
Niagara Region Wind 77 2,129 5,323
Jericho 97 1,329 3,323
Belle River 41 968 2,420
Wainfleet 5 954 2,385
Unifor (CAW) 1 681 1,703
Nation Rise 35 543 1,358
Amherst Island 26 487 1,218

Note: Receptor numbers based on Noise Reports prepared by the proponent as part of the REA approval process. Population estimates were reached by applying a factor of 2.5 per residence. Vacant receptors were not included in this survey. Source: Wind Concerns Ontario

Copyright: Wind Concerns Ontario

*Section 6.2.4 of Ontario’s Noise Guidelines for wind power facilities

**”Annoyance” in this context is used as a medical term denoting stress or distress.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca or president@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind power lobby wants Ontario to forget the past

Wind power lobby cajoles Ontario to ignore all the problems and take another chance on invasive, problem-ridden wind turbines.

Lobbyist for multi-billion-dollar wind power developers want Ontario to forget the past and choose industrial wind … again. {Shutterstock image]

April 2, 2019

Canada’s lobbyist and trade association for the wind power development industry, the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), has just launched its campaign to make the Ontario government reconsider its position on wind power.

On Sunday, March 31st, CanWEA published a blog post entitled “Why wind energy is Ontario’s best option for new electricity supply.”

Ontario director Brandy Gianetta then lists five points.

Not a single one of them is true.

But here’s what is true:

Wind doesn’t work.

Everyone wants the best for the environment, and we all want “clean” electricity, but here’s what we know about the giant wind experiment in Ontario over its 13-year history:

  • Industrial-scale wind turbines have a high impact on the environment for no benefit
  • Wind power never replaced any form of power generation: coal was replaced by nuclear and natural gas
  • Wind power is intermittent, and produced out-of-phase with demand in Ontario; the Coalition for Clean & Reliable Energy notes that almost 70% of wind power is wasted in Ontario … but we have to pay for it anyway.
  • Wind is not “low-cost”; claims of 3.7 cents per kWh prices from Alberta ignore government subsidies. Wind power contracts are a significant factor in Ontario’s high electricity bills, and the trend to “energy poverty.”
  • Wind power has had multiple negative impacts in Ontario, including thousands of complaints of excessive noise reported to government. These have not been resolved, and many power projects may be out of compliance with their approvals; enforcement of the regulations is needed.
  • The promised jobs bonanza never happened.

In fact, a cost-benefit/impact analysis was never done for Ontario’s wind power program, according to two Auditors General.

Ontario doesn’t need more power now says the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), but if we did, why choose an intermittent, unreliable source of power that has so many negative side effects?

Wind doesn’t work.

 

Wind Concerns Ontario

See also Wind Concerns Ontario noise reports: Second Report Noise Complaints February 2018-FINAL

How the wind power industry made a fool out of Ontario

No cause for hilarity this April Fool’s Day. Noise complaints unanswered, wells contaminated, a huge job ahead to unwind the damage

Home in Huron County surrounded by turbines: no laughing matter [Photo Gary Moon]
April 1, 2019

It’s now almost a decade since Ontario passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, which opened the door to industrial-scale wind power developments throughout the province, and heralded ten years of environmental impact … for nothing.

In fact, the province had already approved a gigantic wind power project in Melancthon, and racked up hundreds of noise complaints before the Green Energy Act was passed — the government went ahead anyway.

Today, we have high electricity bills which are harming ordinary families and discouraging business investment; the government has records of thousands of complaints about wind turbine noise and vibration (mostly unresolved); there are 40 or more families in Chatham-Kent who trace the failure of their water wells to construction and operation of wind turbines on a fragile aquifer there; and, we are seeing the environmental impacts that were brought forward in citizen appeals of Renewable Energy Approvals now becoming reality.

Ontario citizens spent close to $10 million in after-tax dollars to protect their communities from the onslaught of large-scale wind power, according to a survey Wind Concerns Ontario did of our coalition members.

The Ontario wind power disaster should not have been a surprise.

Auditor General Jim McCarty chastised the McGuinty government for never having done a cost-benefit or impact study on the wind power program; subsequently, current Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimated that Ontario electricity customers overpaid for renewable energy by $9.2 billion.

Guaranteed to fail

The program to encourage large-scale wind power (the province had a choice back in 2004 onwards to go for small-scale power generation–that’s not what they chose, guided by wind lobbyists) was based on ideology and was criticized by such informed analysts as Michael Trebilcock, who said “This combination of irresponsibility and venality has produced a lethal brew of policies.”

Economics professor Ross McKitrick predicted, “If the goal [of the Green Energy Act] was to promote industry and create jobs, it is guaranteed to fail.”

And Tom Adams, who said, “Urban Ontario, including city-bound journalists, are largely unaware of the corrosive effects some wind developments are having on communities, neighbourhoods, even families. This is expropriation without compensation.”

The jobs never materialized, electricity bills went up, a new phrase “energy poverty” was coined, businesses closed or left, and families were forced to leave their homes because of unbearable noise.

Noise complaints are so prevalent in Huron County that the health unit launched a follow-up study (results will be published later this year). Preliminary data showed that 60% of the people participating in the follow-up were experiencing problems because of wind turbine noise.

Wind Concerns Ontario presented the government’s own noise complaint data as evidence at the appeal of the Nation Rise power project last summer; the approval was upheld regardless of citizen concerns about noise, and damage to a provincially designated “highly vulnerable aquifer.”

Meanwhile, reports of noise are investigated on behalf of the wind power operators by the same companies who prepared the original noise impact assessments for them; one such acoustics firm even boasts that it created the government’s noise assessment protocol.

The fox is not only in the hen house, he built it to ensure easy access.

As Ontario’s new government struggles with all this (Energy Minister Greg Rickford told the Legislature last week that this is a “very difficult” file), there is little to laugh about in Ontario today as the spring winds blow, and families face more sleepless nights.