Ontario to review energy contracts

“a particular focus on larger gas, wind and solar…”

More than money: communities have had genuine concerns about the impact on the environment, health, and the economy from grid-scale wind [Photo: DDOWT]
November 8, 2019

Ontario energy minister Greg Rickford and associate energy minister Bill Walker have announced a Minister’s Directive to retain an “independent party” to conduct a review of the province’s power generation contracts, to reveal cost-saving opportunities.

The Order-In-Council specifically says [emphasis ours]:

Therefore, in accordance with my authority under subsection 25.32(5) of the Act, I hereby direct (IESO) as follows:

      1. To retain the services of an independent third party with relevant qualifications, experience and expertise to undertake a targeted review of existing generation contracts to identify opportunities to lower electricity costs within such generation contracts.
      2. The review referred to in paragraph 1 shall:
        1. identify measures or adjustments that could result in reduced costs for Ontario consumers;
        2. place a particular focus on larger gas, wind and solar contracts that expire in the next ten years, including portfolios of contracts held by the same proponent and any other areas where IESO or the third party determine that there is the potential for cost savings; and
        3. take into consideration system reliability and potential impacts to Indigenous, municipal, and local partnerships.
      3. The review shall not consider the Bruce Power Refurbishment Agreement or contracts related to conservation and demand-management initiatives.
      4. IESO shall provide the third-party report containing its key findings and recommendations, along with IESO’s assessment of the findings, to the Ministry by no later than February 28, 2020.

The statement that “impacts to … municipal and local partnerships” is interesting: it may mean that citizen reports of excessive noise/vibration and water well disturbance (to name a few negative impacts of grid-scale wind power development) may also be considered in the review.

It is also a positive move in that the review will include “system reliability”: many analysts and stakeholder groups such as Ontario’s professional engineers have repeatedly demonstrated that wind power is variable, unreliable, and produces power out-of-phase with demand, which means much of it is constrained (operators are paid not to have power added to the grid) or sold on the open electricity market at a loss.

“Wind Concerns Ontario welcomes this review,” says president Jane Wilson. “For too long wind power has skated by common sense and basic economic principles on the ideology that it is ‘good’ for the environment. We know from multiple environmental impacts such as the thousands of citizen reports of excessive noise and vibration from wind turbines, with accompanying adverse health effects, that wind power is high impact on the environment for little or no benefit.

We look forward to a comprehensive review that takes all these factors into account.”

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Environment minister hears stories of wind turbine noise, health impacts

The previous government did not respond to complaints, or do the testing required in its own regulations, Saugeen Shores residents say

Unifor turbine: hundreds of complaints, no resolution under the previous, pro-wind government in Ontario [Photo: Greg Schmalz]
September 25, 2019

Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, met privately with residents of Port Elgin/Saugeen Shores to discuss the hundreds of complaints filed by families there about noise emissions from the single wind turbine owned by Unifor.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau, who has long advocated for the residents and tried to resolve the problems with the Unifor turbine, was also present at a meeting, wrapped up by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson.

Local community leader Greg Schmalz was grateful for the minister’s attention (“I had to pinch myself”) and said the government seems to understand that new regulations for wind turbine noise, including the low-frequency or inaudible noise emissions from turbines, is part of the answer.

Read this account in the Shoreline Beacon, here.

An excerpt:

Port Elgin resident Greg Schmalz, founder of STOP/ Saugeen Turbine Operation Policy, said the medical harm the CAW wind turbine has caused local residents makes Port Elgin “the lab rat test case” for Ontario.

“They put a low-powered machine amongst 1,300 people living 1,000 metres (of the turbine) – you’ve got an experience that generated the highest number complaints about any wind turbine in Ontario – half which are about audible noise and the half are ‘I’m feeling sick’ complaints due to infrasound,” Schmalz said in a Sept. 24 telephone interview, adding the constant feeling of nausea by at least one local couple forced to them to sell their new Port Elgin home near the turbine.

Schmalz said after years of not so much as an email from ministry officials on turbine issue, he was “pinching myself” to believe he was actually in a room with the minister who was listening.

After the meeting Schmalz was confident they got more than lip service from Minister Yurek, who is on a turbine fact-finding tour of Ontario.

Schmalz hopes the first-hand testimonies and scientific data provided to the minister will lead to regulations prohibiting health harming ‘nauisogenic frequency range’ audio emissions that can’t be heard but are felt by the body.
“Part of the remedy, that I believe the PC government is examining, is how to create regulations that could address the measuring of very low frequency of sound inside people’s homes – the nauisogenic frequency range emissions,” Schmalz said, adding they presented the minister with their expert’s testing results and information uncovered after STOP filed a Freedom of Information request that showed the turbine was operating out of compliance with provincial rules.

Schmalz said they key message to the minister was they’ve done the science.

Noise and infrasound harms people and here’s the people that were harmed,” Schmalz said, adding after 10 years of opposition to the turbine, STOP wants to end the endless cycle of noise complaints to the ministry about the UNIFOR turbine and help finding a solution.

Provincial officials made a written commitment for annual emission testing of the UNIFOR turbine when it began operating in 2013, but that testing was not done.

Private testing by STOP and a Freedom of Information filing found the turbine had been operating out of compliance, and last spring a noise abatement plan, including reducing output to 300Kw from 500Kw, showed it was in compliance under those conditions.

Saugeen Shores Mayor Luke Charbonneau revealed details of the meeting after-the-fact, saying the minister wanted no advance notice to prevent “some big splashy thing where a lot of people – no offense media – show up,” Charbonneau said , adding the minister wanted the affected people to be the story, not his visit.

Charbonneau said two or three years ago, the very notion that the minister would come and speak to the affected people was impossible, so “just the very gesture means a lot to me and those folks who had a chance to speak to him the other say,” Charbonneau said after the Sept 23 council meeting.

Charbonneau said the minister listened, but did not say anything that would advance the issue.

“I hope and expect the government will make some decisions based on what they are hearing from the people,” on the minister’s fact-finding tour.

Charbonneau said Huron Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, facilitated the meeting, and wrapped up the Sept. 19 meeting asking Minister Yurek to comment on what he’d heard.

 

Wind Concerns Ontario reminds everyone living inside wind power projects to continue to file noise reports with the ministry by calling a local office or the “Spills Line” at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number, and keep a record of the call.

One-sided Ontario presentations at international wind turbine conference

A doctor who denies health impacts and a connection to disturbed water wells, an industry insider, and a researcher who claims there is no association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, are all speaking at an international Wind Turbine Noise conference this week. Whatever will they say?

Water from Dover area wells showing sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
June 12, 2019

 

Tomorrow, June 13, at 0900 EDT, Dr. David Colby will deliver a presentation at the Wind Turbine Noise 2019 conference #WTN2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Colby, who is Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent, where there have been allegations of contamination of water wells by particulate matter during wind turbine construction and association with vibration from turbine operation, is presenting a talk titled “Wind Turbines and Groundwater Contamination – an analysis.”

Dr. Colby told Chatham-Kent media that he was not travelling to this conference as a Medical Officer of Health, but rather as a private citizen, and paying expenses himself.

There are many concerns about Dr. Colby’s talk, not the least of which is despite the absence of an investigation into the allegations of contamination, which Chatham-Kent residents have been calling for, is that he has on more than a few occasions claimed there is no relationship between the wind turbine construction in North Kent and any changes in wells and the water supply.

In a story in Farmers Forum, in which MPP Monte McNaughton said the government has asked the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province to look into the situation, Dr. Colby is quoted as saying there was “no evidence” of a relationship between the turbines and disturbed wells.

In an interview published today by the Chatham Voice, Water Wells First leader Jessica Brooks said that with dozens of wells now contaminated, patience with government inaction is waning.

According to research by Water Wells First, Brooks said, the black shale, contained in the water from the disturbed wells, is a material considered an Environmental Hazard in Canada because it has been shown the particles contain heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, lead and uranium.

The toxins in the particles may become bioavailable when digested in stomach acid.

“A 2016 joint report between Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario acknowledged that Ontarians are in fact getting cancer each year from environmental carcinogen exposure. The report specifically acknowledged the heavy metal arsenic, which causes a cancer burden on Ontario’s beleaguered health care system each year,” Brooks said.

The content of Dr Colby’s address is unknown; however, he told Jessica Brooks earlier this year that he is simply reviewing publicly available information, including an analysis by Aecon, involved in construction of the North Kent wind power project.

Later tomorrow, Dr Colby is chairing a panel discussion titled “Impact on People.” He has testified as an expert witness for wind power proponents in the past during legal and quasi-legal proceedings.

Also presenting at this conference is Payam Ashtiani, whose firm Aercoustics boasts that it developed the compliance protocols for wind turbine noise for the (previous) government, and now regularly completes audits of wind turbine noise to assess compliance, and Dr. David Michaud (not a medical doctor), one of the authors of the Health Canada noise study.

Ontario family waits years for action on wind farm noise

Family suffers through night after night of noise while government, wind power operator do endless rounds of testing that go nowhere

Government lacks courage to order shutdown, says Wind Concerns Ontario

Noise measurement at a location within K2 Wind suggests non-compliance; the family has been waiting years for action. [Supplied photo]
March 21, 2019

One Ontario family living inside the K2 Wind power project in Huron County has been waiting for more than three years for resolution to their complaints about wind turbine noise, according to emails between the Ontario government and the family.

In 2015, the family received this email from the Owen Sound district office of the then Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), in which the staff person writing the email notes that there are concerns about the noise being experienced at the home based on the ministry’s own measurements. The government staff member acknowledges noise recordings submitted by the family, then says “This … caused us to require the company to conduct a tonal assessment…”

From: PollardHeather (MOECC) <Heather.Pollard@ontario.ca>
Date: Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 12:15 PM
To: [identity concealed]; Gass, Scott (MOECC) <Scott.gass@ontario.ca>, Chappell, Rick (MOECC) <Rick.Chappell@ontario.ca>, Munn, Natasha (MOECC) <Natasha.Munn@ontario.ca>, Pietz, Kimberley (MOECC) <Kimberley.Pietz@ontario.ca>

Since Scott is out of the office today, I am replying on his behalf.   We have received your recording and, while the recording does not give us an idea about the volume of the noise, it helps give an idea of the types of noise you are hearing. The swishing sound seems fairly typical of wind farm noise that we have heard before, however, the ‘wooing’ sound is also evident. This is similar to the observations that we made that caused us to require the company to conduct a tonal assessment. Additionally, the detailed acoustic audits that we have required the company to conduct will assess the overall levels of noise coming from the wind farm.

 Thank you for submitting this. It is helpful.

Heather G. Pollard

District Supervisor, Owen Sound District Office, Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

Now, after more than three years of testing by the ministry and no action on the part of the wind power developer, the family recently hired an engineer to do independent noise measurement, which it has again, submitted to government as an indicator of problems. This testing was done simultaneously with noise measurement by an acoustics firm hired by the wind power operator.

The independent results appear to indicate that at times, the noise emissions from the wind turbines were over the legal limit for wind turbines in Ontario by as much as 20 decibels, or more.

According to the requirements of a wind power Renewable Energy Approval, the wind power operator must investigate the cause of noise complaints, and take action to ensure that the situation causing the complaint does not recur.

The family has been filing reports with the Ontario government since the wind power project began.

K2 Wind is owned by a consortium led by Axium Infrastructure with a minority stake held by the Alberta Teachers pension fund. The 270-megawatt power project has 140 2.3-MW turbines.

Problems predicted during citizen appeal

At an appeal of the K2 Wind launched by Shawn and Tricia Drennan, testimony by MOECC environmental officer Gary Tomlinson noted that there had been hundreds of citizen complaints about noise and vibration from other Ontario wind power projects, and that complaints continued even though turbines had been found in compliance.

A witness for Appellant, acoustician Rick James, testified that the noise assessment model used by the MOECC “will not predict a worstcase scenario and thus will underestimate the actual noise levels for many receptors within the project.” (Appeal 13-097/13-098, page 76) And, because of the deficiencies in the noise modeling process, Mr. James testified, “the predicted noise assessment was off by 5 dBA” ( paragraph [114]). Mr. James, an expert in audiology and sound monitoring and testing, also referred to the potential for tonal noise, infrasound and low frequency noise which would create a “significant risk” to health ( paragraph [115]).

In an email sent to Wind Concerns Ontario today, in response to emails from the coalition to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks on behalf of the family, District Manager Rick Chappell noted the testing is once again ongoing at the residence and that the ministry will “assess compliance against the Renewable Energy Approval”.

No courage to order shutdown?

“The length of time this family has waited for help is an outrage,” says WCO president Jane Wilson

“The regulations and compliance rules were put in place along with a complaint logging system to protect Ontario residents, but all we’re seeing here is testing, testing and more testing. Clearly, the Ministry is not doing its job as a regulator, and the endless testing suggests they do not have the courage, or political will, to actually order turbines to be shut down.”

Wind Concerns has copies of thousands of citizen complaints about wind turbine noise dating back to 2006, obtained under a Freedom of Information request; most remain unresolved, and the government response rate for recent complaints is less than seven percent.

 

Why complaints about wind turbine noise are important (and why Ontario is failing to use an important public health tool)

February 21, 2019

Many organizations act on consumer or user complaints because they know those complaints are an important indicator of the success — or failure — of a product or program.  The Ontario government now has records of thousands of complaints dating back to 2006 regarding excessive noise and shadow flicker or strobe effect. The detailed files on these complaints, which contain notes by Provincial Officers with the ministry of the environment, also contain comments on adverse health effects stemming from exposure to the noise emissions.

While organizations like Health Canada act on reports of adverse effects from medications or problems with medical devices, the Ontario government instead maintains all complaints about wind turbines under the environment ministry and, to the best of our knowledge, does not even share these complaints and records with the provincial health ministry.

An article titled “Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada” was published recently in an international open-access library; the paper reviews the Ontario situation in the context of other public health reporting tools, and refers to documents Wind Concerns Ontario received via requests made via Freedom of Information legislation.

Conclusion? Ontario instituted a complaint process with the purpose of assuring citizens health and safety will be protected … but they’re not using it.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Documentation of citizen noise reports received from the government shows that in the beginning, staff of the province’s environment ministry made an attempt (though apparently without resolution) to respond to the reports of excessive noise and other effects of wind turbine noise emissions. This may have conflicted with the government’s “green energy” policy as the efforts appear to have changed from response to issues management as the response rate to complaints declined to 6.9 percent in 2015-2016, from 40 percent in 2006-2014 ([9], p. 4).


Copies of staff training materials in Ontario which were received in the  [Wind Concerns Ontario] FOI request show that employees were given specific directions from management as to what action, if any, to take. For example, in one PowerPoint training session, staff was directed not to treat wind turbine noise as tonal (
[9], p. 9). It is possible the reason for this, could have been that according to the government noise measurement protocol, a 5 dBA penalty would have to be applied to noise measurements in the case of tonal or cyclical noise emissions, in which case a turbine might have been found non-compliant with regulations.


Notes from staff in summary reports of Incident Reports also indicated that staff recommendations to middle and upper management to issue orders for
noise abatement or other actions were ignored (
[10], p. 12). It appears that the process of filing wind turbine Incident Reports and its purpose for addressing concerns about effects on health and safety may have resulted in more reports than expected and may have been dissonant with stated
government policy objectives to promote “green” energy.

Read the full article, here.

 

Cut red tape, enforce wind turbine noise rules: WCO to Ford government

Ontario rural residents caught on a ‘hamster wheel’ of emails and phone calls to government, and endless testing for wind turbine noise — but nothing ever gets done

February 18, 2019

One of the cost-cutting initiatives of the now eight-month-old Ontario government is the “Red Tape Reduction” plan, spearheaded by Government and Consumer Services Minister Todd Smith.

Last week, Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to Minister Smith (who is also the MPP for Prince Edward County where citizens have been fighting wind power projects for over 10 years) to suggest that reviewing to wind turbine noise compliance protocol and actually enforcing Ontario’s noise regulations could go a long way to cutting “red tape.”

“The Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise is a costly and ineffective process,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson wrote in a letter that accompanied a box of printouts of noise complaints and Master Incident Report summaries that are government records collected since 2006. “Rather than requiring the project operators to address complaints to the satisfaction of local residents, the focus of enforcement has shifted to proving compliance with audible noise levels using this protocol. While the original Ministry compliance actions were focused on the actual complaints about the project, the new compliance process has no direct connection to the complaints registered with the Ministry about the turbine operations.”

“That is complex and costly for both the government and the power operators,” Wilson said.

This process is incredibly problematic, Wind Concerns Ontario asserts: staff time is being used to receive and respond to complaints coming in to the Ministry via its complaints tracking process (the Spills Action Centre and District Offices), staff is involved in liaising with wind power operators over the audit process, and now, an enormous backlog of long overdue audit reports is also being dealt with by staff. And meanwhile, complaints about the adverse effects created by wind turbine projects are not being resolved.

“This is the very definition of inefficiency,” Wilson said.

In one example provided to the MInister, a family in the Windsor area has been complaining about wind turbine noise and adverse health effects for more than eight years. According to documents received via Freedom of Information request, in one year the family had more than 50 interactions with government staff, staff with staff, and staff with the power operator. Ministry staff made two site visits with no action taken. Meanwhile, one member of the family visited the family’s doctor multiple times and underwent diagnostic testing including MRIs and acoustic testing, all of which place a burden on Ontario’s healthcare system.

“The fact is, the government and the power operators are relying on this protocol instead of listening to resident’s actual complaints, some of which clearly indicate the presence of other than audible noise. These complaints need to be addressed, the noise emissions need to stop, and the enormous cost to the people of Ontario can be identified,” said Wilson.

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Environment ministry lawyer avoids reality in Tribunal arguments

You expect lawyers to defend their clients. But shouldn’t a government lawyer always act in the public interest?

November 29, 2018

Last Friday in Toronto, the appeal against the Renewable Energy Approval for the “Nation Rise” wind power project—an appeal launched and funded by the community—heard closing arguments from the citizens’ group appealing the approval, the multi-billion-dollar Portuguese wind power developer, and the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The latter was represented by Ottawa-based lawyer Paul McCulloch. His job is to defend the Wynne government’s hasty approval of the 100-megawatt power project, south of Ottawa.

Question: Should a government lawyer not be also responsible for defending the residents of North Stormont from the adverse effects caused by a wind power project?

What happened though, was that Mr. McCulloch made astonishing comments in response to evidence brought forward on the risk to human health.

Mr. McCulloch alleged that “no” wind power project has ever been tested and found out of compliance in Ontario. This is patently false. To name just one example, the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin has resulted in hundreds of noise reports, it was found out of compliance and is now under a power reduction order and noise abatement plan (though noise complaints have not stopped).

Similarly, there were many noise reports for the Melancthon wind power project between 2006 and 2009, that the environment ministry did inspections and testing and concluded “the sound discharged into the natural environment from the wind turbines would cause an adverse effect.” * The company was ordered to reduce noise levels, and remodel several of the turbines; when that was not entirely successful, the ministry further worked with the operator to employ a noise abatement plan and in 2011, implemented a “noise reduced operating plan” according to a ministry report obtained under Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario.

So, yes, turbines have been found out of compliance and abatement orders issued; the reality is, many others are caught up in a seemingly endless round of audible noise testing through a flawed protocol.

Mr. McCulloch also dismissed government records of complaints from residents presented by Wind Concerns Ontario as evidence of problems and especially adverse effects from wind turbine emissions, saying no conclusions can be drawn from self-reported complaints.  However, “assessment” of noise/adverse effects complaints has not been a requirement of the process, so there would not be such records of medical opinions. And the ministry doesn’t follow up on reports of adverse effects, or even refer them to the Ministry of Health. The MOECC (now MECP) also does not collect information on academic credentials of the people as part of the complaint tracking process. The reality is, trained healthcare and medical professionals are among those who have filed complaints about the impact of wind turbines on their health, and others have had their assessments confirmed by healthcare professionals.

Government lawyer Mr. McCulloch, however, essentially stated that unless people registering complaints with the MECP provide medical proof, their reports are of no consequence. Does this mean that the thousands of provincial records of noise complaints are meaningless? That adverse health effects being reported to government are ignored? That is a terrible message for the people of rural Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s comments may also have undermined a community health investigation being carried out at the request of Huron County citizens, funded by Ontario taxpayers. The investigation was initiated by public health officials in the Huron County Health Unit in response to clusters of health complaints related to wind turbines. It is being carried out under authority of the Ontario Health Promotion and Protection Act.

But now, is all hope for this project dashed? At the hands of a government lawyer? Mr. McCulloch, a public servant, demeaned the investigation process and criticized the fact that it relied on information solicited from “volunteers.” By “volunteers” he meant Ontario citizens, the same citizens who have been dutifully filing complaints with the environment ministry since 2006, with little or no action.

Contrary to Mr. McCulloch’s remarks on the methodology in the investigation, it is modeled on the Health Canada community study, and received ethics approval from a university. Various challenges in the community (non-disclosure clauses in wind turbine lease agreements, distrust of more “study,” and despair at the lack of government action) have led to a lower participation level than expected by the investigating health professionals.

In recent weeks, the Medical Officer of Health and the staff epidemiologist have been in the media, renewing invitations for citizens to participate.

Who will participate in that important ongoing community health project now? Speaking apparently on behalf of the government, lawyer McCulloch essentially said any results will mean nothing to the MECP.

The lawyer also told the Tribunal that current Ontario setbacks and noise limits reflect the “consensus view” of the impact of wind turbines on health. That statement purposely ignores a report prepared by the Council of Canadian Academies for the federal government that demonstrated the basic measurement tool Ontario uses to assess wind turbine noise is inadequate, as well as the report issued by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbine Noise, and recent announcements from the World Health Organization recommending a more stringent noise standard for wind turbines in Europe than is used in Ontario.

Mr. McCulloch’s statements to the Environment Review Tribunal were misleading.

The environment ministry should clarify his remarks immediately, in order for the Tribunal to be informed with the truth.

 

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

*Master Incident Report 7465-8KCC68, pages 2-3

For information on the Huron County community investigation: https://www.huronhealthunit.ca/reports-and-statistics/investigations/wind-turbine-study/

 

Changes to wind farm regulations not wide enough: WCO

Proposed changes to Regulation 359/09, which covers wind turbine siting, noise, and how project appeals are allowed, don’t begin to cover the landscape on Ontario’s problems with wind power projects, says Wind Concerns Ontario. For one thing, there is no protection for health and safety.

 

Regulation 359/09 doesn’t align with experience and research, and doesn’t protect health, safety or the environment

November 9, 2018

Proposed amendments to Regulation 359/09, infamous in rural Ontario subjected to wind power projects as being THE regulation responsible for the abuses of democracy and social justice, don’t begin to make the changes needed, Wind Concerns Ontario says in a comment document filed this week with the Ontario government.

“The wider provisions of the regulation do not align with the experience in Ontario and current research on the impact of wind turbines on communities,” president Jane Wilson wrote in a covering letter attached to the formal comment document.

“The conclusion of experience and research is that many aspects of the current regulation are not sufficient to protect the health and safety of residents living near the wind power projects. Significant changes are required.”

The document was filed with the government on November 5th.

Affected by wind turbine noise, vibration and well water disturbance, or have experience with effects on the environment and wildlife? Send the document to your MPP with your personal comments.

Read it here: 359 09 Comment WCO-FINAL-Nov5

 

 

Wind power project with 100s of complaints deemed ‘compliant’ says Environment ministry

Residents near the Underwood turbines have been waiting for a long time to get help for disturbing noise … they’re not getting it.

Ontario environment ministry has more than 500 reports of excessive noise — but nothing is being done. Why?  Computers say everything is OK.

August 13, 2018

Residents forced to live inside the 110-turbine Underwood wind power project operated by Enbridge have been waiting patiently to find out what the results were of a long-awaited post-operational acoustics audit.

Their wait is now over, but they’re not happy.

Residents received telephone calls recently from the Owen Sound Office of the (now) Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks to the effect that the Underwood project audit report concludes it complies with Ontario wind turbine noise regulations.

In a letter dated July 27th, Owen Sound District Manager Rick Chappell wrote:

“The report states that based on the results of the assessment, the Underwood Wind Project is in compliance with applicable sound level limits at your location.”

Chappell then apologizes for the “stress” caused by the assessment process, but makes no mention of the many reports filed with the ministry by the family, or of the adverse health effects possibly experienced.

The acoustics audit was prepared by Aercoustics Engineering, a firm that does acoustics assessments for many wind power developers, and also helps them prepare noise assessments for their applications for approval.

The assessment was first done in 2015, under the government’s previous noise protocol, but was not accepted. Aercoustics explains how the data was prepared (recycled) for the new report.

As an alternative, Aercoustics proposed that the turbine electrical power threshold be
replaced by a threshold based on rotational speed. These findings and recommendations
were presented to the MOECC in a memo dated November 15, 2017. This memo, along
with the correspondence with the MOECC, is attached to this report in Appendix F.
With the alternative assessment methodology, based on turbine rotational speed rather
than power output, a full dataset was possible using Aercoustics’ measurement data at
R144 from July 8 to September 7, 2015. Valcoustics’ measurement data was used for
receptor R145 spanning May 1 to September 30, 2015; the added data was required due
to the wind direction during the summer months invalidating most of the measurement
data at R145. (Source: Aercoustics Assessment Report Project 15143.01, January 30, 2018, page 5)

The audit was done on two of the project’s 110 wind turbines, in response to noise complaints from the residents. The revised report was produced three years after the original.

The audit also assumed that a single turbine was worthy of assessment and shut the other turbines down, in the fallacious/convenient belief that multiple turbines do not have an accumulated effect.

Complaints lodged, no action taken

Wind Concerns Ontario has copies of Incident Reports and Master Incident files provided under a Freedom of Information request from the then Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The collection of documents from 2006 to 2016 show that there are 515 reports of excessive noise related to the Underwood wind project.

In one report dated April 2011, ministry staff notes say that the caller was told there would be an audit by Valcoustics and a report provided, equipment was installed from November 2009 to April 2010 , but no results were ever provided to the caller. Staff note a report (number 66) was made to a Bob Simpson of Enbridge; the closing note says “noise modeling indicates no exceedances.”

In another report, also dated 2011, the caller to the ministry Spills Action Line reports “loss of sleep due to wind turbine noise” –this adverse effect is recorded again through several more calls. The ministry staff person notes “advised the caller that he should contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit… regarding health concerns.”

Aercoustics actually states in the 2018 report that because the monitoring towers were placed closer to the turbines than the residents’ homes, there was “a measure of conservatism … actual turbine-only sound at the receptors is expected to be lower than those measured at monitoring locations.”

In the case of one turbine assessed, that distance was only 38 metres.

Table 2: Receptor Measurement Locations

Receptor Location UTM Coordinates Distance to
Turbine [m]
Predicted Sound Level*
R144 Receptor 17T 458093mE
4907987mN
537 39
Monitor 17T 458092mE
4908028mN
  499
R145 Receptor 17T 459854mE
4907073mN
453 39.8
Monitor** 17T 459931mE
4907082mN
  375

Predicted level taken from Table 4 of the Revised Environmental Noise Assessment [1], sound
level at 6 m/s.
Predicted level taken from Table 3 of the Revised Environmental Noise Assessment [1], sound
level after
wind direction adjustment. * UTM coordinates for R145 monitor taken from Aercousticsmonitoring equipment, which was
erected less than 10 meters from Valcoustics monitoring equipment

 

“This determination of compliance in the face of hundreds of complaints about this project, which has been operating since 2008, is nothing short of outrageous,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson.

“It is a violation of the government’s own Environmental Protection Act to have allowed this many noise complaints to go on for so long, especially with the staff notations of adverse health effects. All the ministry does is talk about testing and compliance—they are not responding to the real problems that people are reporting to them. Acceptance of this whitewash report is a complete failure of their mandate to protect.”

To read the Aercoustics report, click here: http://www.enbridge.com/~/media/EF4720063692403B82FD1AA859689E0F.ashx

If the link does not work for you, follow these directions from Enbridge:  www.enbridge.com, and then go to ‘An interactive experience:  Our North American assets map’ on the home page.  Click on see the map, and zoom in to find the Underwood Wind Farm (aka Ontario Wind Power Project).  Click on the wind symbol and you will see a link that says ‘Click here to read Aercoustics Engineering’s acoustic immission audit on the Underwood wind farm’. 

contact@windconcernsontario.ca