Latest wind turbine fail raises questions about Ontario regulations, safety

SPLAT! Catastrophic failure of turbine at Bow Lake Photo: Sault Online)

September 2, 2021

The failure of a wind turbine at the Bow Lake wind power facility near Sault Ste. Marie is raising questions about safety around the giant industrial structures and current Ontario regulations.

The collapse of the Bow Lake turbine is being investigated by the power facility operator, BluEarth Renewables, and there were no injuries associated with the event. However, as can be seen from the photo of the debris field, it is worth questioning what might have happened if the collapse had occurred on a farm property in southern Ontario.

Interviewed for the story in Sault Online , engineer Bill Palmer said “this incident is the 10th wind turbine failure in Ontario that has put the blades (and in this case all three of the 50 metre long blades for the failed turbine) onto the ground… this is the second collapse of a very similar GE wind turbine and the 6th case in Ontario in which GE turbines have put blades on the ground”.

Palmer has published numerous academic papers and appeared at international conferences on wind turbines and health and safety. He noted that his personal experience with a turbine failure showed that debris was flung more than 500 metres.

The Ontario regulation for setback between a wind turbine and a roadway or right of way is currently blade length plus 10 metres. In the case of the Nation Rise power project for example, that would be 79 metres or just 259 feet.

Just two months ago, a turbine failed in Southgate, just west of Toronto. The roadway nearby was closed for a week. No conclusions of the investigation into the event have been published to date.

“People who have never seen an actual modern wind turbine and who are familiar only with images from the wind power developers’ lobby group may not understand that these are industrial structures,” says Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “We are calling for an update to Ontario’s regulations for these power generators, for both safety and health. The current regulations are unchanged from 2009 and the McGuinty government, despite the fact turbines are growing more massive every year.

With the City of Ottawa calling for the installation of wind turbines as part of a Net Zero emissions strategy, more turbines could be on the way for Ontario.

“Government needs to act, now,” Wilson says.

Source: Wm Palmer PEng, published in Sault Online


What's your reaction?


  • Stan Thayer
    Posted September 12, 2021 5:33 am 0Likes

    Absolutely breathtaking region before the turbines went up!
    I took the Agawa Canyon train trip before the actual wind turbine installations and will always be amazed at how a railway was put through such rough terrain with crazy weather.
    The winds on that upper corner of the lake territory are really violent and unpredictable. It sure is no surprise to start to see this kind of problem. We power workers thought maybe the towers would make 4 years before major repairs would be necassary simply because of the harsh environment, forget if they ever make power or not simply because the wind is either too high, they stop, or too low, they stop, or changing direction too fast and they never get started but still take the abuse.
    If I remember right it has been 5 or 6 years and I have no idea of what maintenance has been done, if any, to get to this point. Usually with industrial wind turbines when the big maintenance starts the for sale signs go up.
    It’s to bad to see this project come apart so soon with a catastrophic failure but hey,,,,,,,noone can say it’s a surprise.
    Simple case of not,,,IF,,,but,,,WHEN!

    Stan Thayer

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted September 13, 2021 9:43 am 0Likes

      The Bow Lake turbines went into Commercial Operation officially five years ago. The Bow Lake failure is the tenth failure in Ontario.

  • Richard Mann
    Posted September 13, 2021 1:48 pm 0Likes

    Wind turbines need to stop due to documented, ongoing, and cumulative health harm from infra sound.

    Please see the following talk,
    September 12, 2019. University of Waterloo.
    Mariana Alves-Pereira (Lisbon, Portugal). “Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise: Physics & Cells, History & Health”.

    Despite repeated attempts to contact government, no one has responded to my requests.

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