Five of the 132 turbines in Transalta’s Melancthon wind farm, the Melancthon EcoPower Centre, are being shut down overnight because of noise complaints, but the remaining 127 are all in compliance with provincial regulations, a TransAlta spokesman has told Amaranth Township Council.
Jason Edworthy didn’t specify the location of the 1.5- megawatt turbines but did indicate that the company is taking a dual loss as a result of the shutdowns. Responding to Councillor Bryan Besley, he said Transalta is paying royalties to the affected landowners in the amount they would have received had the turbines been operating.
Mr. Edworthy, Recreational along with two other Transalta staff from Calgary and Bryan Tripp of the company’s Guelph office, had attended the Wednesday morning council meeting to update councillors on noise mitigation measures.
In a possible allusion to the firm’s controversial transformer substation in Amaranth, he said there is nothing that can be done about what is in compliance. (Transalta is facing continuous complaints and one lawsuit over the transformers. One complainant is denying that the company has made any effort to reach a satisfactory settlement but Transalta has indicated it is continuing to seek a resolution.)
In the meantime, MPP Sylvia Jones is pressing the provincial environment minister to delve into the issues more deeply.
In other turbine-related issues, Amaranth council was given a letter from Brian Howe of Howe Gastmeier Chapnik Limited (HGC) commenting on data posted on Wind Concerns Ontario’s website, in which HGC alleges that information studies had
“It has come to HGC Engineering’s attention that a document that referenced several reports prepared by HGC Engineering for TransAlta in relation to the Melancthon EcoPower Centre wind farm has been posted on the website of Wind Concerns Ontario’s website, in which HGC alleges that some information taken from its studies had been misrepresented.
“It has come to HGC Engineering’s attention that a document that referenced several reports prepared by HGC Engineering for TransAlta in relation to the Melancthon EcoPower Centre wind farm has been posted on the website of Wind Concerns Ontario,” Mr. Howe wrote.
“The title of the document is ‘Prepared for Amaranth Township Council and the
Ontario Official Opposition’ and was prepared by David White on January 29, 2011, revised February 20, 2011. I have no knowledge as to whether the document was presented or delivered to either the township or the opposition party.”
Mr. Howe says four of Mr. White’s figures are audit measurements of average and background sound levels at two residential receptors but the conclusions drawn by
Mr. White are inconsistent with those of HGC.
As well, “most telling is the fact that Mr. White’s last figure concludes that the sound produced by the wind turbines is above MOE limits, despite the fact that HGC Engineering’s title for the figure clearly indicates ‘Wind Turbines not Operational’.”
Mr. Howe also takes issue with Mr. White’s insinuation that infrasound at any level can cause dire health problems. “In reality, the infrasound levels measured at the Lormand residence are at least 20 dB below the average threshold of human hearing and on par with those ambient infrasound levels coming from natural sources such as wind and waves.”
Mr. Howe does acknowledge that the Melancthon wind farm predates the October 2008 Ministry of Environment noise guidelines for wind farms as well as the new setback requirements of current legislation.
He says the turbines in Melancthon and Amaranth are “generally in compliance” with the new guidelines. “However, it should be acknowledged that periods were identified where sound levels were marginally over the limits under select wind speed and wind shear conditions, although not to the extent implied by Mr. White.
“Nonetheless, TransAlta has taken this situation seriously and has worked co-operatively with the Ministry of the Environment to investigate the noise complaints in Amaranth and Melancthon. TransAlta has implemented a noise reduced operation system at specific wind turbines during the times when the critical wind conditions exist in an effort to achieve the current sound level limits,” Mr. Howe concludes.
Mr. White could not be reached for comment.
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