Ontario needs new wind turbine noise regulations: WCO to MOECC

Wind turbine noise testing needs total overhaul, Wind Concerns Ontario says

NEWS RELEASE

June 27, 2016, OTTAWA – Ontario needs to do a complete revision of procedures for wind turbine noise testing, Wind Concerns Ontario has informed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in a review of proposed regulatory changes.

According to WCO, the growing scientific research on wind turbine noise emissions and the escalating number of unresolved complaints confirm that proposed changes to the government’s old protocol are insufficient to address the problems faced by people living among wind turbine projects.

“The changes the Ministry has proposed to its existing procedures are nothing more than minor tweaks,” says president Jane Wilson. “The government is ignoring the need for real change to keep up with science, and to protect health from noise emissions.”

By 2015, the MOECC had received more than 2,700 complaints about problems with wind turbine noise, WCO learned. Though more recent data are not available, monitoring by WCO suggests that this number has continued to grow with the number of larger new turbines that have become operational since then.

Proposed new testing procedures are inadequate as they limit testing to audible noise outside of the home, while many citizen complaints relate to turbine noise emissions that people cannot hear, but rather, are vibrations or sensations that they feel, says WCO. And, while many complaints are about the noise and sensation experienced inside buildings, the MOECC only tests outside noise.

“The MOECC persists in the standard of using one form of noise measurement, the dBA, while the acoustics industry and even the Government of Canada has said this is providing only part of the picture on noise emissions,” Wilson says.

The process of confirming turbine compliance with regulations is convoluted and complex — people have lost trust in the Ontario government, WCO says. For example, the Enbridge project near Kincardine began operation in late 2008 but there is still no report that confirms the turbines are compliant.

The MOECC also relies on information from the power developers, and predicted modelling — not actual noise testing. This has resulted in a loss of faith in the Wynne government as a protector of public health.

Rather than dismissing resident complaints, WCO told the Ministry in a comment document in response to proposed regulatory changes, the government should view these contacts as an opportunity to learn and show leadership in responsible renewable energy implementation.

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and citizens concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power projects on the economy, the environment, and health.

Contact Jane Wilson at president@windconcernsontario.ca

Additional quotes:

“If government and the wind power development industry is using only A-weighted noise measurement or dBA, they are only getting part of the picture.”

“Wind turbines have been found out of compliance via third-party measurements, yet the MOECC does not act on these findings. The MOECC also does not report publicly on complaints or actions taken as it does for other complaints made to the ministry ‘Spills Line’. ”

“Using only computer-generated predictive noise models does not reflect the reality of wind turbine noise emission experiences in Ontario. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to do actual, on-site testing in conditions similar to or the same as those that spurred a citizen complaint to assure Ontarians it is fulfilling its mandate to protect people.”

www.windconcernsontario.ca

See the WCO comment document filed with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change here: ResponsetoNoiseProtocol-June16FINAL

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO 250 WELLINGTON MAIN STREET WELLINGTON ONTARIO

Comments

Mike Jankowski
Reply

Thank you. Yes, we certainly do. Questions need to be answered such as: Why would people 5 km away from the nearest wind turbine be able to sense their noise emissions inside their home at night? Audible sound decays at shorter distances. The situation calls for diagnostic study.

Further, variables we must understand to know if a person will react with negative health issues to emissions from wind turbines (Including pulsating infrasound as mentioned here) include the home and the person. Ontario continues to not measure in homes as part of its permitting and enforcement protections!

+1 Thank you.

Wind Concerns Ontario
Reply

As you will see in the full document, we tell the MOECC that progressive organizations regard complaints not as something frivolous to be dismissed, but as a real opportunity to learn and deal with problems. Ontario claims to be a world leader in renewable energy: until it deals with the problems it’s policy is causing, it isn’t a leader.
Our comments were developed with input from a number of technical sources; we would like to thank those acoustics and engineering professionals who helped us create a meaningful document.

Sommer
Reply

I fully agree Mike. The lack of respect for nearby residents is appalling! People have every right to be there and to stay in their own homes and feel safe and secure. Nearby residents also have the right to the pleasure of their homes.
People have indeed lost trust in the Ontario government.
Thank you for this news release Jane!

Wind Concerns Ontario
Reply

Please do read the full document, and note on page 6 the definition of “adverse effect” from the Environmental Protection Act.
‘adverse effect’ means one or more of,
(a) impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it,
(b) injury or damage to property or to plant or animal life,
(c) harm or material discomfort to any person,
(d) an adverse effect on the health of any person,
(e) impairment of the safety of any person,
(f) rendering any property or plant or animal life unfit for human use,
(g) loss of enjoyment of normal use of property, and
(h) interference with the normal conduct of business;

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