K2 Wind ordered to comply with Ontario noise regulations

Carla and Mike Stachura: letter from MECP announced Director’s Order against K2 [Photo: Global News]
May 25, 2019

One of Ontario’s largest wind power projects, K2 Wind, a 140-turbine project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh in Huron County, has been found out of compliance with conditions of its Renewable Energy Approval, and Ontario noise regulations.

The operator for the project has been issued an Order by the Director of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to act immediately to develop and implement a Noise Abatement Plan and further, to conduct an acoustic audit to confirm compliance.

The K2 Wind power project began operation in 2015; documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario show that the Ontario Liberal government had received more than 400 complaints about wind turbine noise and other adverse effects by the end of 2016. [1]

Residents have continued to complain about the project and earlier this year, testing took place at several homes where families have persisted in filing reports of excessive noise and vibration/sensation.

The Provincial Officer’s Order instructs K2 Wind Ontario Inc. to undertake various actions related to the project. By June 14, they are to have developed and implemented interim abatement measures to bring the project into compliance with the Noise Performance Limits of the project. A range of options were provided for these changes including:

  1. Limiting the number of hours during a twenty-four (24) hour period during which the Equipment operates;
  2. De-rating the wind turbines to reduce the Sound Levels emitted from the Equipment; or
  3. Curtailing the operation of the Equipment under specific conditions, such as wind speed and direction[2].

Details of the changes made are to be provided to the Ministry by June17.

In addition, the project operator is to engage an Acoustical Consultant who is to prepare and submit a Noise Abatement Action Plan (NAAP) by July 19. This NAAP is to include:

  1. Mitigation measures to ensure that the Facility is operating in compliance with the Noise Performance Limits;
  2. Detailed timelines for the implementation of the NAAP: and
  3. The submission and the timeline for completion of a new I-Audit, including Tonal Assessments, to verify that implementation of the NAAP have achieved compliance with the Noise Performance Limits

The Order is unusual in the history of the Ontario government managing complaints about wind turbine noise and other emissions, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Up to now, resident complaints have been largely ignored by the Ministry. The documents we received showed the response rate had actually declined, and the Ministry did not seem prepared to take any action at all against the wind power operators, who are classified as the ‘Client’ in Ministry documents.

“This is a departure in tone and intent,” Wilson says.

In closing arguments at the appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project last August, Ministry lawyer Paul McCulloch claimed that evidence presented by Wilson based on the government records of noise complaints was not to be taken seriously by the Environmental Review Tribunal because the complaints (though recorded by government Environmental Officers who are also classed as Public Officers under the Criminal Code of Canada) should have been supported by medical opinion.

In a letter to Carla Stachura, a homeowner living among K2 Wind turbine who has been stalwart on filing reports of wind turbine noise, Environmental Officer Natasha Munn stated: “The ministry has directed Pattern Energy to review the information from your complaints as part of the overall assessment. The information submitted will be assessed using the 2017 Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise.”

“That is really important,” says Jane Wilson. “Resident reports of excessive noise are to be taken seriously and evaluated, as stipulated in the Renewable Energy Approvals.”

Noise abatement has been required before, notably in the case of the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin, a problematic turbine that has been de-rated twice, and now operates at 300 kW — while the complaints keep being filed with residents, regardless of abatement.

A noise abatement plan was suggested, but not ordered, for multiple turbines in the Melancthon project but there is no evidence in government records that this ever happened, and complaints continue to be filed.

It is unclear what effect if any this Order could have on the Nation Rise project which is now in Direct Appeal to the MInister; while K2 Wind’s new audits will be assessed against the newer 2017 noise limits while Nation Rise (also owned in part by Axium Infrastructure) was allowed to submit its renewable energy application using the old limits, despite not having specified the turbine models to be used.

Read a copy of the Director’s Order here: Order NUMBER 8710-BBPLMC (3)

 

[1] Wind Concerns Ontario has also requested records from 2017 and 2018, neither of which have been fulfilled.

[2] Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Provincial Officer’s Order, 8710-BBPJA8, dated May 23, 2019.

See also a recent article on how the failure to act on citizen complaints about wind turbine noise is a serious failure in public health surveillance: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331174238_Wind_Turbine_IncidentComplaint_Reports_in_Ontario_Canada_A_Review-Why_Are_They_Important