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OMB action said needed on substation noise

Amaranth Township Council will seek to have the Canadian Hydro Developers existing transformer substation included as an issue at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing into the Melancthon II wind-turbine project.

Mayor Don MacIver told township CAO Sue Stone to advise the CHD lawyers accordingly, after the council had heard a recording of noise levels near the substation, said to be as high as 65 decibels, at Wednesday’s meeting,

In playing the recording, Paul Thompson, a neighbour of the substation, said there is a constant hum from the transformer – constantly at 40 dB, he said – but rising for about 10-20 seconds to as much as 65 when the CHD transmission goes back on grid after being off for a time, according to his recorded demonstration, although the under-construction sound barriers are intended to reduce it to 31 dB.

Mr. Thompson said the sound reflects off a metal shed on his property. “If you listen (long) it gets in your head, and you can’t get it out,” he said.

An OMB pre-hearing for the CHD appeal of the council’s delay in approval of the project, Case PL060754, has been set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, in council chambers. The pre-hearing generally determines how long the hearing should take, who should have party status, the issues, and other such things.

Mayor MacIver said he wants the transformers to be included in the OMB hearing as “part of the package” for Melancthon II.

However, the substation per se already has the necessary township zoning. But CAO Sue Stone said the Ministry of Environment “must approve” a noise monitoring program, although the township could design it.

Mr. Thompson said that as CHD is paying for the current sound experts, it’s the same thing as CHD actually doing the monitoring.

Mayor MacIver said the township does have its own sound consultants, but acknowledged that the township consultant had initially used computer models and data from CHD.

The township person “must be actively involved” in the designs and monitoring, said Councillor Walter Kolodziechuk. Councillor Jane Aultman said the noise level must be reduced to what the original plan called for – 31 dB, and not left, as Mr. Thompson expressed it – at 10 dB higher.

“They have a long way to go,” said Mr. Thompson.

The substation is at the 10th Line and 15 Sideroad. The turbines at issue are all north of 25 Sideroad.

But Mayor MacIver said eight proponents are looking for windfarm locations in the township, including a Florida company that has already begun securing leases from landowners.

Not all of the eight have actually approached the council. “We have heard (from residents),” said the mayor. Ms. Aultman added that the fact of negotiations with landowners in no way indicates the council’s approval.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet,” she said.

The OMB hearing would deal only with the CHD applications.

By Wes Keller
Freelance Reporter