Detailed reports on the approved $5-million wind turbine for the landfill back up city administration’s case the project is safe and will turn a profit, the city’s alternative energy engineer says.
But a city councillor says the reports only back up her concern the project is a better fit in the country.
“I’m opposed to this and I would be opposed if it was in Briarwood, Montgomery, Willowgrove or Stonebridge,” said Coun. Pat Lorje. “These things do not belong in an urban setting. It’s not NIMBY (not in my backyard), it’s NIMCY – not in my city.”
The four reports, which dissenting councillors wanted to see in full before approval was granted for the 120-metre tall turbine last month, were released online late Wednesday by city hall. They analyze the impact of noise and shadow flicker, assess wind potential, look at the effect on birds and bats, and evaluate the design and performance of a wind turbine installed at a dump site.
The turbine dominated a Wednesday night town hall meeting in Ward 2, which includes nearby Montgomery Place and Holiday Park, whose residents have opposed the development and were applauded at the meeting when they spoke against the project.
The main report on wind noise, conducted by the Saskatchewan Research Council, shows the sound generated by the turbine is within the requirements set out in Germany and Ontario, which allow 40 decibel limits. The closest residence is 780 metres from the turbine, beyond Ontario’s 550-metre setback standard, and the maximum noise heard by at a home would be 36.6 decibels, the report says.
There has been a lobby campaign in Ontario to reduce the level to around 30 decibels, which would increase the setback distance significantly.
But Kevin Hudson, alternative energy engineer for Saskatoon Light and Power, said the turbine noise will be virtually non-existent at the nearest home and have no “adverse effects.”
“No Montgomery resident will ever hear the wind turbine (from their home),” Hudson said.
The report concludes that the noise of the turbine is below “existing background noises,” the report says.
“This means that noise levels produced by a wind turbine located in the landfill may be considered acceptable,” the report says.
Lorje, who has been the main critic of the project, said the power output of the turbine has been inconsistent, initially projected to produce power for 500 to 700 homes, but estimated in the reports at 450 homes.
“It just keeps going down,” she said.
The wind assessment study concludes the site is “marginal” for wind power and ranks in class two of seven using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s classification system. But Hudson said the low output compared to other wind projects such as Swift Current’s Centennial wind farm was expected and the economic return – estimated at $5 million over 20 years – makes the project a viable revenue producer.
The bird study, conducted by Stantec, concludes there are potential adverse effects on gulls and bats, who forage and rest at the landfill, and recommends two years of monitoring mortality rates after construction to determine the impact on wildlife.
“Due to the high concentration of gulls at this site, there is a potential risk of adverse effects to these species, particularly during fall migration when larger movements of birds occur in the area,” the report says.
Hudson said the impact will be diminished once the area of the landfill where the turbine will be situated is capped. The gulls and bats will likely not fly through the area, he said. If there are any affects found the city will install mitigation measures such as slowing the turbine during levels of heavy migration, he said.
Lorje is calling for the provincial government to conduct an environmental assessment of the project, saying it should meet its definition of a “development” and spark an in-depth review. The wind turbine is the first in the world installed at an active landfill and by far the largest inside a city in Canada, she said.