Wind turbine noise complaints mount, documents show

“Unbearable torture…please help us”

Wind Concerns Ontario releases a report on Ontario government records of 2017 wind turbine noise complaints

A report released today by Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO) shows that the government under Premier Kathleen Wynne did little to respond to citizen reports of environmental noise pollution by industrial-scale wind turbines. And, when government staff in the environment ministry offices did try to enforce Ontario noise regulations, they were rebuffed by corporate wind power operators.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report is a review of almost 700 noise complaints from people living inside 23 wind power facilities across Ontario. The total number of complaints records received by WCO now exceeds 5,200.

Response by the environment ministry was recorded in only 1.3 percent of the records in 2017; 54 percent of the files were marked “No” response by government staff.

Adverse health impacts were noted in staff notes and recorded comments by citizens calling in or emailing in 42 percent of the files, and 16 percent contained description of symptoms suggestive of exposure to low-frequency noise which is not audible but can cause harm.

The Wind Concerns Ontario report comes after a 17-month wait and several appeals to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner following the initial request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act. The noise complaints were made to the MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change during the pro-wind power Wynne government’s last full year in office.

Excerpts from the citizen complaints are included and provide a “litany of suffering” according to the WCO report.

“We find no peace … the assault is the same and at times greater in low wind speeds. [We have had] a thumping noise through our heads, long and steady, all day,” was one comment from someone living near the single turbine in Port Elgin, owned by the union Unifor.

“The noise has been bad for 24 hours,” said another resident, living inside the 140-turbine K2 Wind power facility. “I am exhausted from not sleeping.”

Another K2 Wind neighbour reported that the noise “drives a person insane when it goes on for hours…We are being impacted health-wise and are extremely agitated with the noise.”

“Unbearable … torture,” said another person. No response from the environment ministry was recorded on the file.

The corporate power operators are required by the terms of their Renewable Energy Approvals or REAs to act on these complaints, and to investigate the cause of complaints, take action, and ensure the complaints are not repeated. The Environmental Protection Act gives specific power to the environment ministry to take action.

In practice, however, Wind Concerns Ontario found in its review, the power operators were delinquent in filing audits to confirm compliance, and refused to take action when called upon by ministry staff. When the Owen Sound District Office, for example, demanded the operator of K2 Wind respond to noise complaints and implement noise mitigation until their (overdue) audit was filed, the company wrote back from its Texas headquarters with a refusal, stating “It is the Company’s view that the current circumstances do not objectively establish reasonable and probable grounds to require interim mitigation measures.” The operator, Pattern Energy, referred to its computer-generated predictive modeling for noise and said the modeling “is accurate.” In other words, our models say this can’t happen, therefore it isn’t.

The situation is unacceptable, Wind Concerns Ontario says.

“We’re recommending that the current Ontario government take action to enforce the regulations immediately,” says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “It’s time to get rid of the outdated and non-protective protocol for measuring noise, stop letting the corporate power operators police their own operations, and re-invest and support our trained Environmental Officers—let them do the job they were supposed to do, and help the people of rural Ontario who have been forced to live next to these power generating machines.”

The Wind Concerns Ontario report on 2017 noise complaints is available here: Wind Turbine Noise Reports to MOECC in 2017-FINAL (3)

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups, individuals and families concerned about the negative impacts of industrial-scale wind power development on the environment, the economy, and people’s health.

Wind turbines and the N-word

Too close for comfort, say academics about Ontario wind turbines [Photo of the problematic Unifor wind turbine: Greg Schmalz]

“Government and industry not trusted to resolve noise complaints effectively or fairly” researchers said in 2016

January 20, 2020

An interesting story popped up in the news feed this morning, out of Missouri.

A wind power project has been proposed for Buchanan County and a new protective zoning ordinance drafted. The ordinance specifies a two-mile setback between turbines and the city limits, but there is no restriction on the distance between the huge wind power generators and rural homes.

Once again, rural communities are pitted against city dwellers; the latter seems all too eager to have their wind power but not have to hear it, too.

Any minute now, the N-word will come up.

City dwellers will be encouraged by the wind power proponents to accuse their country cousins of being “NIMBY” (Not in My Back Yard) while at the same time, these large power generators will never be in their back yards. Or even close to them.

The use of the epithet NIMBY has been used effectively by the wind power lobby as a marketing strategy designed to put rural residents offside, and help depict them as uninformed people worried only about property values and views.

The Buchanan County ordinance is interesting because a) it acknowledges that there are problems with wind turbine noise, and b) significant setbacks are needed to try to counter that problem.

Let’s be clear: NIMBY is an insult. It’s also completely inappropriate say two authors and academics, in a paper published in the journal Renewable Energy Law and Policy, not long after the Green Energy Act was passed.*

When it comes to community concerns about wind power projects being forced on residents, there are very real problems, authors Stephen Hill and James Knott said. Noise issues were “conflated with other social issues such as property value,” there was “inadequate communication and public engagement” and a “loss of local government authority over planning matters,” all of which led to a “growing mistrust in government and industry’s ability to effectively and fairly manage the risks of wind turbine noise.”

The McGuinty and Wynne governments became regarded “not as a neutral arbiter of wind regulation but rather an active proponent,” the authors said. “A crucial error, in our view, was not to have created an independent expert panel to assess the central points of controversy,” i.e, the noise and health impacts.

Hill and Knott are not alone: several other academic authors said that use of the term NIMBY is “an oversimplification of opposition that more accurately is based on a complex mix of factors.”

“Many communities have genuine concerns about impacts on environmental integrity, viewscapes, food production, and social fabric” wrote a team of authors, also published in the Renewable Energy Law and Policy journal.**

Today, with thousands of reports of excessive wind turbine noise and complaints of associated health effects logged by the Ontario government (even with a deeply flawed and inadequate reporting system), we have more than enough evidence that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

Ontario’s current government has pledged to do something to help; insisting on complete compliance with current noise regulations (which do not meet World Health Organization standards) and enforcing Renewable Energy Approvals is a start.

In the meantime, in view of all the very serious problems with industrial-scale wind power, no one should be calling anyone a NIMBY.

WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO

contact@windconcernsontario.ca

*Stephen Hill and James Knott. 2010. Renewable Energy Law and Policy. Too Close for Comfort: Social Controversies Surrounding Wind Farm Noise Setback Policies in Ontario.

** D. McRobert, J. Tennent-Riddell and C. Walker. 2016. Renewable Energy Law and Policy. Ontario’s Green Economy and Green Energy Act: Why a Well-Intentioned Law is Mired in Controversy and Opposed by Rural Communities.

Other reading: Carmen Krogh, Jane Wilson, Mary Harrington. 2019. Wind Turbine Incident/Complaint Reports in Ontario, Canada: a review, Why are they important. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331174238_Wind_Turbine_IncidentComplaint_Reports_in_Ontario_Canada_A_Review-Why_Are_They_Important

K2 Wind claims it’s compliant with Ontario noise regulations

Meanwhile, complaints from residents mount

The only measure of success in resolving Ontario’s wind turbine noise problem is the complete cessation of resident complaints — that’s not happening. Yet.  [Shutterstock photo]
October 9, 2019

In a letter from Senior Environmental Officer Scott Gass in the Owen Sound District Office of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), Ministry staff report that the operator of the massive K2 Wind power project claims the project is now in compliance with Ontario noise regulations for industrial-scale wind turbines.

K2 Wind was found out of compliance earlier this year and was the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a Noise Abatement Plan for 90 of the 140 turbines in the power project.

Now, says Mr. Gass in his letter to a resident with longstanding problems (who wishes to be anonymous), the noise issue appears to be resolved. Mr. Gass’ email, it should be noted, was to furnish the residents with official Incident Report numbers for ongoing reports of excessive noise and vibration.

His email stated:

“At this time, in response to the additional Part D noise analysis completed in the spring, K2 has taken steps to de-rate approximately 90 turbines to reduce noise emissions. The information supplied by the company indicates that the wind turbines, with the interim curtailment in place, meet the ministry’s sound level limits. This is an interim measure put in place while K2 develops a long-term noise abatement action plan for ministry review. Once a long-term plan has been implemented, additional monitoring will be required to assess the noise emissions.” [Scott Gass, email October 4, 2019]

The ministry continues to rely on outdated regulations in its Compliance Protocol, which assess audible noise emissions only. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Act clearly states that the operator of a wind power project must address all conditions causing “adverse effect” and take steps to address the complaints from nearby residents.

So, in short, the only sign of success in noise abatement would be a complete halt in complaints about noise and adverse effects — that’s not what is happening. Resident complaints do not appear to be a factor in assessment of compliance.

The family emailed by Mr. Gass lives on a farm surrounded by turbines in all directions, and has been reporting excessive noise from multiple K2 Wind turbines for four years — since the project began operation.

Problems with wind turbine noise are prevalent all over Ontario, with more than 4,500 formal reports filed  up to 2016. (Wind Concerns Ontario has requested  data for 2017 and 2018 but so far, has not received any information, and has in fact filed for a second appeal to obtain the 2017 records.)

Environment minister Jeff Yurek recently visited residents in Port Elgin who have filed hundreds of complaints about the Unifor wind turbine in that community.

While a pledge to enforce regulations is a step forward from the previous government, which had a very close relationship with the wind power industry, there can be no “success” on this front until all noise complaints and reports of adverse health effects have stopped.

That will require political courage and decisive action, including the shutdown of wind turbines.

 

Note: if you are experiencing noise/vibration/sensation of pressure from wind turbines, please report it to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks by calling the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. Be sure to get an Incident Report number and keep a record of your call. You may wish to copy your MPP.

More protective regulation needed for wind turbines: NY health official

Stapleton to lead state health officials group 

Daniel Stapleton of Niagara County: managing risk is my job [Photo: Niagara Gazette]

September 17, 2019

Last week, Senator Robert Ortt of New York State, hosted a public health forum in Williamsville, NY. Many speakers attended including acoustician Robert Rand, audiology professor Jerry Punch, and others.

The Public Health Director for Niagara County, Daniel Stapleton, was one of the featured speakers. Starting out with the grave pronouncement, “I don’t call them wind ‘farms,’ I call them industrial wind turbines,” Stapleton said it is his job to manage risks to health in his jurisdiction.

He pointed out that sleep disturbance is an acknowledged and serious risk to health, and leads to various chronic diseases. He linked wind turbine noise emissions to sleep disturbance (which is not the same as sleep deprivation) and the development of chronic disease.

He said that he, and many fellow public health officials are so concerned about wind turbine noise emissions and the lack of appropriate regulation, that he, and 58 other officials will be issuing a statement on the need for stronger regulation governing wind turbines.

In Ontario, Canada, wind turbine noise regulations were drafted by the government under Premier Dalton McGuinty whose government took many actions to promote wind power development; the regulations, including property setbacks, were developed in consultation with the wind power industry.

They have not been updated.

Ontario received more than 4,500 reports of excessive noise from wind turbines, many with reports of adverse health effects, between 2006 and 2016.

Wind Concerns Ontario has requested the noise reports for 2017 and 2018 from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, but has notreceived any documents. The 2017 documents were the subject of an appeal after lack of response was deemed a refusal, but the request has still not been fulfilled, after more than a year.

Listen to the 12-minute Daniel Stapleton presentation here:  https://youtu.be/fWwLAxIaiYY

 

Infrasound/low-frequency noise specialist to speak at U Waterloo

August 7, 2019

A renowned researcher specializing in noise emissions and their effect on the human body, will be speaking at the University of Waterloo on September 12.

All are invited and there is no charge for the event.

DETAILS:

Speaker: Mariana Alves-Pereira
Title: Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise: Physics, Cells, Health and History
Date: Thursday September 12, 2019
Time: 1 pm
Location: University of Waterloo, Room: DC 1302 (Davis Centre)

Speaker Bio:
Mariana Alves-Pereira holds a B.Sc. in Physics (State University of New York at Stony Brook), a M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering (Drexel University) and a Ph.D. in
Environmental Sciences (New University of Lisbon). She joined the multidisciplinary research team investigating the biological response to
infrasound and low frequency noise in 1988, and has been the team’s Assistant Coordinator since 1999. Recipient of three scientific awards, and author and coauthor of over 50 scientific publications (including peer-reviewed and conference presentations), Dr. Alves-Pereira is currently Associate Professor at Lusófona University teaching Biophysics and Biomaterials in health science programs (nursing and radiology), as well as Physics and Hygiene in workplace safety & health programs.

Her most recently published paper concerns low-frequency noise and infrasound, and how outdated regulations are failing to protect health.

Host: Associate professor Richard Mann, http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~mannr

Chatham-Kent’s Colby defends wind turbines: water contamination ‘not possible’

Medical Officer of Health tells international audience that “the notion that extensive fracturing of bedrock could result from piles is ludicrous.”

Water in Chatham-Kent wells is laden with sediment. [Photo: Sydenham Current]
June 25, 2019

Speaking at the 2019 conference on wind turbine noise in Lisbon, Portugal earlier this month, Dr. David Colby took on “allegations” of disturbance of well water by wind turbine construction and pronounced the situation as impossible.

Dr. Colby was listed simply in the conference programme as being associated with Western University (he is an associate professor of microbiology and immunology) but did not list his position as Medical Officer of Health for Chatham-Kent.

In decidedly un-academic language he began by stating that “allegations of water well interference, sediment infiltration and aquifer contamination due to ground borne vibrations from wind turbine construction and operation have been levied against a wind farm in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada.”

Dr Colby’s paper is simply a recitation of evidence provided by the wind power proponent/operator and by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment at the appeal of the project. He states that the appeal was withdrawn, implying that there was no basis for it. In fact, the proponent sprang a technical report on the Appellant during the proceedings and the Tribunal refused to allow the Appellant (appearing without legal counsel) time to review the report — the Appellant was left no choice but to withdraw.

Relying on a technical report prepared for the wind power operator by Aecom Canada and the original environment ministry assessment, Colby concluded that “water quality in the study area of Chatham-Kent was poor from the outset.

“There is no evidence that water wells are being systematically affected by construction or operation of wind turbines,” Dr Colby concluded.

Not content with negating the complaints of dozens of property owners in his public health jurisdiction, Dr Colby also took a swipe at citizens in North Stormont, where one of the main concerns is that the 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project is being built on an area deemed by the province to be a “highly vulnerable aquifer.” He cited the fact the appeal was dismissed by the Environmental Review Tribunal as more proof that there is no association between wind turbines and well disturbance.

But that’s not what groundwater experts say.

In the current issue of the journal of the Ontario Groundwater Association, “Turbidity and Turbines” is the feature article, which includes an interview with hydrogeologist Bill Clarke.

“There is no doubt in my mind this is well interference,” Clarke said.

Joel Gagnon, professor in Environmental and Earth Sciences at the University of Waterloo was also interviewed about testing he and a team of students carried out on the Chatham-Kent affected wells. Where Dr Colby states outright that not only is there no problem with the well water, it’s actually impossible that there could be, Professor Gagnon says “there is a lot of uncertainty.”

He wants more investigation into the issue.

The Groundwater article says that there are not more than 80 water wells affected in Chatham-Kent. Hydrogeologist Clarke is concerned about the future, and worries the situation could become a “tragedy.”

“Why not stop,” he says, “reflect on what we don’t know.”

Read an excerpt from the David Colby presentation here: WTN2019-groundwaterExcerpt

Read the Groundwater Association article here.

Hello! EDP! We have a well here! Citizens in North Stormont mounted a campaign to demand proponent EDPR test well water, as required in the approval–many were missed. Dr Colby says affected wells had lousy water in the first place. (Photo: Concerned Citizens of North Stormont, John Irven)

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.

Energy, Environment ministers promise action on wind turbine problems

“We get it” ministers tell community leaders from Ontario rural communities

Minister of Environment Rod Phillips tells rural residents the government is taking action on Ontario’s wind turbine problems: it won’t happen overnight, but we are working on it. L-R MPP Daryl Kramp, Energy Minister Greg Rickford, Environment Minister Rod Phillips, WCO president Jane Wilson, MPP Goldie Ghamari [Photo courtesy MPP Goldie Ghamari]
June 2, 2019

Ontario’s Minister of Energy and Northern Development Greg Rickford attended an event at Queen’s Park sponsored by MPP Daryl Kramp (Hastings-Lennox and Addington) and hosted by Wind Concerns Ontario this week with his colleague Rod Phillips, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Minister Rickford said the two are working together on responding to citizen concerns and reports of noise and other adverse effects from the thousands of industrial-scale wind turbines that were forced on Ontario communities by the McGuinty-Wynne governments.

“It won’t happen overnight,” Minister Rickford said, but we are dedicated to helping communities with concerns and problems with wind turbines.

In recent days, the environment ministry has determined that two large wind power projects are not in compliance with provincial noise regulations. K2 Wind is out of compliance and now the subject of a Director’s Order to implement a noise abatement plan within the next two weeks, and further, to establish firm dates for new audits to demonstrate compliance to the revised noise protocol by mid-July.

The Director has also stipulated that K2 Wind, which is owned now by Axium Infrastructure, must review resident complaints as part of its response.

The Order, the requirements for immediate noise abatement, and the acknowledgement of resident concerns mark a significant departure from how complaints were managed by the previous government, which treated the wind power operators as their “Client” and failed to respond to the majority of complaints. Response to complaints about noise and other effects is a requirement of Renewable Energy Approvals.

The “Windlectric” project on Amherst Island was also determined to be out of compliance; Wind Concerns Ontario is unaware of a Director’s Order for that project.

The Energy Minister said that cancelling the contracts with wind power operators was difficult and likely not possible, but the government was taking other action to deal with problems. Minister Phillips said they are very aware of the problems being experienced.

“We need more material from you,” he said, speaking to community leaders from across Ontario.

Many of the MPPs who have wind turbines in their ridings attended the event including Lisa Thompson (MInister of Education), Rick Nicholls (Deputy Speaker), Laurie Scott (Minister of Labour), Sam Oosterhoff, Jeff Yurek (Minister of Transportation) and of course, Daryl Kramp, who sponsored the information event. Other MPPs attending were Daisy Wai, Belinda Kalaharios, Michael Parsa, Robin Martin and Effie Triantafilopolous (both Parliamentary Assistants to the Minister of Health), Dave Smith, Doug Downey, Goldie Ghamari, Logan Kanapathi, Vijay Thanigasala, Will Bouma, Jim McDonell, and Jane McKenna.

Senior staff members for MPPs also attended the event.

“When the Green Energy Act was passed in 2009, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised action to address any concerns about health and safety associated with wind turbines,” said WCO president Jane Wilson. “That’s not what happened — today, we have thousands upon thousands of complaints filed with government about noise and other effects, and the former government did almost nothing.”

Minister Lisa Thompson, who was environment critic while the PC party was in Opposition, told WCO president Jane Wilson, “I think about this every single day–I have been with you from the beginning.”

MPP Rick Nicholls, who has many turbines in his Chatham-Kent riding, said the reality of wind turbines has resonated with the public which no longer believes the mythology about impact-free, “green” wind power generators. He referred to the defeat of the pro-wind Chatham-Kent mayor as a sign of the public’s changed attitude.

“I think they get it that there are concerns,” said Stewart Halliday of Grey Highlands, who is vice-chair of the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, and who came to represent municipal concerns about noise and safety issues. “They reassured us and now they are starting to take action with K2 and Amherst Island.”

Posters were presented around the room, outlining major concerns and suggestions for government action. A slide show featured pictures from wind turbine projects all over Ontario including Amherst Island, Bow Lake, K2 Wind, Bluewater, Belle River, and Chatham-Kent.

A WCO member and resident of West Lincoln wrote to WCO after the event to say “spirits were uplifted” for area residents after the ministers’ statements and recent actions by the MECP.

 

 

 

 

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