The way of the future may not be what some locals are looking towards,at least not in their back yards.
A public meeting on Thursday gave people the opportunity to check out the plans for a wind turbine in Port Blake,behind the water treatment plant. This is currently in a resource assessment feasibility stage. If implemented,it would be the first municipal water treatment plant to generate electricity from wind power.
The joint board of management for the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System and the joint boards of management for the Elgin Area Primary Water Supply System are investigating the possibility of installing wind turbine generators,one at each of the Lake Huron and Elgin area water treatment plants to provide a supplementary source of electricity for the plant. The turbine generators would reduce the amount of electric purchased and the demand for electricity from Ontario’s power plants,thereby reducing smog-forming pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
From the beginning there have been concerns from the public regarding health impacts associated with turbines,visual and noise impacts and the impact on migrating birds.
In other response people said harnessing wind energy in the future is required to decrease air pollution. One comment was that erecting a turbine at this location sets a bad precedent so close to the lake.
In responding to the concerns, a public meeting provided some of the answers stating infrasound/low frequency noise emissions were common with some early wind turbine wind turbine model as in which turbine blades are downwind of the main tower.Modern wind turbine generators generally have the blades upwind of the tower with the rotor facing the wind. it was noted there is no evidence the current (upwind) turbine technology presents any problems related to the generation of infrasound/low frequency sound energy.
The Ministry of the Environment have been asked what the anticipated visual impact is and said a visual assessment is currently being completed and includes a photomontage ,zone of visual influence ma[[ping,shadow flicker analysis and 3D fly-through animation.
They state a failure of mechanical; component may result in adverse mechanical noise, as well as vibration.They said there is no evidence that even such failures generate significant vibration outside a 50metre radius from the turbine generator tower.
Wind turbine basics
The provincial government has set a renewable energy target of five per cent of the electricity to come from renewable sources by 2007,increasing to ten percent by 2010.
Wind turbines generate electricity in winds from 16 km/h to 90 km/h and generate optimally with winds between 50 km/h and 90 km/h.
One turbine generator at the water treatment plant would offset about 5916 megawatt hours per year of electricity from Ontario’s power grid,equivalent to the amount of electricity used in about 550 homes in Ontario each year.
Wind power would make up approximately 16 per cent of the electricity supply needs for the water treatment plant.
The estimate yearly savings with a turbine for this project would be $345,000.00 dollars. The input from the meeting will be considered in the final recommendations.
Feasibility and wind resource assessment study was funded in part by the Green Municipal Enabling Fund which provides grants to municipalities for up to half of the cost of feasibility studies.The fund is financed by the Government of Canada and administered by the Federation of Canadian municipalities .Notwithstanding this support, the government of Canada and the federation of the Canadian municipalities does not accept responsibility for the views expressed within the presentation Thursday.
Andrew Henry says the maintenance costs are part of the cost model for the project,this being the responsibility of the Lake Huron Water Supply treatment plant.
Input received as a result of the public information session will be considered in the final recommendations. This group will work closely with the huron County and South Huron .They will decommission the meteorological tower. They hope to finalize the wind resource assessment and feasibility study in December and the joint board will carefully evaluate all comments received throughout the study and the recommendations to determine the most appropriate course of action for developing wind power at the site.
Henry said the meeting went quite well. he said in some cases emotions ran high but he felt they answered the questions as well as they were able to.
By Lynda Hillman-Rapley
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding