March 25, 2022
The lack of progress in protecting people who live in Ontario’s rural communities is highlighted in a news story out today in the Ottawa Business Journal.
In spite of thousands of noise complaints, the Ontario government has not changed any regulations including setbacks from homes for to industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. The regulations were implements under the McGuinty government in 2009.
Opposition to wind turbines has not gone away, according to the story, with Wind Concerns Ontario actually “ramping up” efforts, in the wake of recent announcements about procurement of 1,000 megawatts of new power generation in the province.
Complaints about noise, vibration and other impacts from the industrial-scale wind power plants have never gone away.
Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of community groups, families and individuals, recently recommended that setbacks between grid-scale or industrial-scale wind turbines should be 2 kilometres going forward. The recommendation is based on a review of other jurisdictions internationally, and on Ontario experiences, which suggest the current 550-metre setback is not adequate to protect health or for safety.
WCO president Jane Wilson is quoted as saying that noise audits of the turbine projects, while required by wind power approvals, have not been completed in many cases. That means that compliance with regulations has not been verified.
“According to information available, only 43 per cent of projects have demonstrated compliance,” Wilson says, adding that the provincial government has received close to 7,000 formal incident reports documenting noise pollution from 2006 to 2018.
“In fact, 47 per cent of the projects are either incomplete or still under review, some for as long as nine years,” she notes. For example, the status of the South Branch project in South Dundas is “incomplete” after almost eight years.
The only reliable factor in controlling noise pollution from the wind turbines is distance, Wilson says.
Other concerns include the risks to safety posed by wind turbine failures which have occurred throughout Ontario. The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, a collection of municipalities where there are operating wind power plants, has expressed concern about the lack of municipal notification and transparency on investigations of wat engineers term “catastrophic failures.”
The group called for notification of events and publicizing the result of engineering investigations.