A group of residents living adjacent to Cochrane High School has launched a petition to show their concern about plans to erect a new wind turbine on the school’s grounds.
Cochrane High is hoping to construct an Evance R9000 5 kW turbine on the west side of the school, approximately 10 feet from the gymnasium. While the school is emphasizing that the turbine is quiet, safe for residential neighbourhoods and will not decrease property values, some residents in the surrounding area are unconvinced.
The group has been distributing flyers to their neighbours that encourage them to sign a petition against the turbine. In particular, the group is concerned that, at a height of 60 feet and a diameter of 18 feet, the turbine is simply too large for a residential neighbourhood.
“I knocked on the doors of 18 residents’ homes, and no one was aware of the scope of this thing,” said Brenda Samborski, one of the concerned residents.
The residents are also concerned about the level of noise that will be emitted by the wind turbine. While the proximity of their homes to three schools means it’s often loud during the day, they said there was a huge difference in the evening, when the neighbourhood is quite quiet.
They worry that the turbine could have a disruptive effect on the noise level at their homes and pointed to literature from Munster Wind Turbines, a manufacturer of the Evance R9000, that suggests neighbouring residents should be more than 100 metres away from the turbine base.
“Our concern is not so much the level of noise but the consistent level of noise,” Samborski said. “We compare it to a dripping tap, where the noise level is not very high but it’s still very annoying.”
Richard Kennedy, another of the concerned neighbours, said the flyers distributed by the school featured images of turbines in open fields, something he believed was misleading given the proposed location.
“It’s not an accurate representation of what they’re trying to do,” Kennedy said. “To me, visual representations are important.”
The group also believes the school hasn’t undertaken sufficient consultation with neighbouring residents. They believe that while there was an open house on April 24, more residents would have attended the meeting had they understood the scope of the project in advance.
But that’s something that Stephanie Bennett, the teacher at Cochrane High who has spearheaded the wind turbine project, said is simply not true. She said the school hand delivered flyers to all neighbouring residents on April 4 and then put two ads in the local newspaper on April 11 and April 18, giving residents three weeks notice for the meeting.
“They were consulted. We’ve done nothing wrong with the communication process,” Bennett said.
“We gave them that amount of notice and we had pictures of the size of the turbine. We’re talking about small wind energy, unfortunately words are getting muddled here because I’ve been seeing words like “giant wind turbine” and it’s not a giant wind turbine, it’s a 5 KW small turbine.”
Bennett said one of the reasons the school selected the Evance R9000 was that it’s a state of the art small wind turbine that has a direct drive magnetic alternator instead of a gearbox in the hub. She said that leads to lower sound emanating from the blade.
“It is designed for residential. It is designed for school properties, and it is designed for commercial properties,” Bennett said. “Our students are first and foremost in our mind, and we are not picking a project that is going to endanger any one of them.”
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