(continued)

MOE district supervisor testifies
at Armow Wind hearing

By Liz Dadson

Technology

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Heather Pollard, district supervisor of the Owen Sound office of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE), gave testimony at the Environmental Review Tribunal Thursday afternoon in Kincardine.

Appearing by way of a summons, Pollard said she has been the supervisor of the Owen Sound office since 2004, and was a junior environmental officer and senior environmental officer prior to that.

She said there are currently seven wind projects in the Owen Sound district, and all were constructed prior to the Green Energy Act and the Renewable Energy Approvals (REA) process.

Pollard said her office has received complaints about six of the seven wind projects, mostly related to wind turbine noise and health effects.

"People have indicated they are having sleep disturbance, headaches, nausea, vertigo, tinnitus - symptoms they attribute to the wind farm," she said. "We can follow up on the noise complaints but we have no expertise with health effects."

Asha James, counsel for the appellants, Ken and Sharon Kroeplin, asked Pollard if any complaints came from post-turbine residents suffering from health effects at the Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm.

"Yes," said Pollard.

"Do you know the number?" asked James.

"350 complaints," said Pollard.

"Directly to you?" asked James.

"To my office during the day and to the Spills Action Centre after-hours," said Pollard.

James asked when Pollard's office put in place a protocol for wind turbine noise complaints.

"About 2011," said Pollard. "It has been used for complaints with Enbridge, and the same protocol will be used for REA projects."

When asked to explain the protocol, Pollard said there are four steps, including a screening process to determine if the complaint is a valid noise concern, and then followed up with acoustic monitoring.

The screening steps include speaking with the complainant, said Pollard, a site visit, and a check for setback reduction.

"What is setback reduction?" asked James.

"The GPS (Global Positioning System) has the co-ordinates for the turbines, as they were approved," said Pollard.

"And if they are not in compliance?" asked James.

"We determine if there is a significant difference to warrant remodelling of the noise," said Pollard, "and that would be done by the wind company."

"Can you make the wind company shut down the turbines (if not in compliance)?" asked James.

"It depends on the results of the remodelling," said Pollard.

The final step, she said is an acoustic audit.

"If that is required, can you shut down the turbines?" asked James.

"We have not done so," said Pollard, "and it's unlikely we could do that."

James reviewed with Pollard some of the complaints received in 2011, mainly from the Enbridge project.

"At some locations, the sound readings are above the MOE limits?" asked James.

"Yes," said Pollard.

"You have received complaints from these turbines?" asked James.

"Yes," said Pollard.

"If remodelling is done for proper setbacks and the turbines are out of compliance, what is the next step?" asked James.

"The acoustic study," said Pollard.

"But during the study, all the turbines remain operational?" asked James.

"Yes," said Pollard.

 

"Do you continue to receive complaints about the Enbridge project?" asked James.

"Yes," said Pollard.

"In 2012, how many complaints did you receive?" asked James.

"96," said Pollard.

James referred to an E-mail, dated Jan. 10, 2013, regarding low-frequency noise.

"The MOE does not test for that?" asked James.

"No," said Pollard. "But it could be part of a protocol at a later date. However, that would not be ahead of the provincial and federal health studies."

Danielle Meuleman, counsel for the MOE director, outlined the seven projects that the Owen Sound office oversees:

  • Huron Wind, five turbines, Kincardine, operating since 2002
  • Ferndale, three turbines, operating since 2006
  • Kingsbridge (K1), 22 turbines, in Huron County, operating since 2006
  • Ripley, 38 turbines, operating since December, 2007
  • Cruickshank, five turbines, Kincardine, operating since 2006
  • Enbridge, 110 turbines, Kincardine, operating since 2009
  • Plateau, 11 turbines, Grey-Highlands, operating since 2011

Plus, the CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) turbine in Saugeen Shores which has been operating since 2013.

As Meuleman went through the list, she asked Pollard if complaints had been received from each project.

Pollard said fewer than 12 complaints had been received for the K1 project; complaints from about six households regarding the Ripley project; fewer than 12 for the Cruickshank project; numerous complaints about the Enbridge project, from about 10-20 households; complaints from about six households regarding Plateau; and several dozen complaints about the CAW turbine.

James asked Pollard if her office receives complaints from people now that the 550-metre setback is in place through the REA process.

"Yes," said Pollard.

"Other industrial facilities require abatement action," said James. "Do you receive 350 complaints for factories or gas projects?"

"I can't think of an example," said Pollard.

Also testifying Thursday afternoon, was acoustician Rick James.

The appeal hearing wrapped up Friday afternoon, and will reconvene in Toronto for final testimony Monday, Jan. 13, and Tuesday, Jan. 14.

The appeal was launched Oct. 23 by the Kroeplins, against the proposed Armow Wind Class 4 wind facility, a 92-turbine, 180-megawatt industrial wind development in Kincardine. It was approved by the director of the MOE through the REA process, Oct. 9.



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