A report given by a representative from Enbridge on the effects of local wind farms drew criticism from councilors, who accused the company of providing misleading information on the impact of industrial wind turbines.
Ian MacRobbie, general manager of Enbridge Ontario Wind Power in Kincardine, delivered a delegation at a Dec. 19 following presentations made before by Health Affected Residents Meeting (HARM) in November.
MacRobbie, who admitted the company perhaps was not sufficiently responsive to concerns in the past, said Enbridge cares deeply about the community and strives to be a good neighbour. He cited Enbridge’s relocating of power lines, planting trees to provide visual barriers to the turbines and investigating light shields as examples of “good neighbour” behaviours.
“These actions cost significant amounts of money,” MacRobbie said. “I believe we have acted in good faith and made good progress.”
MacRobbie also spoke to the company’s complaint resolution process, and said all complaints are responded to within 24 hours, though resolution could take longer.
“We take all health concerns very seriously,” he said. “We advise that all health concerns be reported to the Ministry of the Environment.”
MacRobbie said submission of anonymous complaints presented certain difficulties in finding resolutions.
“It’s a challenge when we are unsure where the complaint is coming from,” he said.
A chart presented by MacRobbie indicated Enbridge had received 32 complaints since the company’s wind turbines went into operation in 2008-2009.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said while that number might be relatively small, any number of complaints was enough to raise concern.
“The people affected may be a small percentage of the people,” Eadie said. “Many residents are fine. People say it’s just a few complaining, but we care about everybody. We’re not going to let go and neglect some of our residents because most of the people are fine.”
Eadie also took issue with Enbridge’s reported tax contribution of $300,000 to the municipality, claiming the financial report was intentionally vague.
“I know it’s not Enbridge.,” she said. “The government is involved, but we’re tired of going around in circles. It’s misleading about taxes. We only get $77,000. The rest of that amount goes to the county and education.”
Councilor Coristine asked MacRobbie if complaints were perhaps being submitted incorrectly, as the 32 complaints reported by Enbridge fell short of the “hundreds” he said he has received.
“What we’ve presented are complaints we as a company received,” MacRobbie replied, adding that complaints raised with the MOE were not reflected in Enbridge’s figures.
That explanation did not sit well with councilor Faubert, who also expressed surprise MacRobbie was not directly addressing the report circulated by HARM last month.
“I didn’t see where you addressed any of the issues brought up in the delegation,” she said. “Some of the information misrepresents. When someone files with MOE, does it just disappear? People are complaining about their health to a ministry who then – files the info?”
Faubert continued by asking MacRobbie if Enbridge would be testing for low-frequency noise emissions, a specific concern raised by HARM. Faubert was not satisfied with MacRobbie’s reply.
“We’ve done some research on that,” MacRobbie said. “The biggest challenge is there are no provincial guidelines. For Enbridge to embark upon that is beyond our scope.”
“So the MOE is looking into it, which doesn’t give me a lot of faith,” Faubert replied.
Council then heard a request that a representative from HARM be allowed to immediately speak to the Enbridge presentation. HARM’s Bill MacKenzie, who had been seated in the audience, urged Enbridge to take swift action in response to the health concerns of local residents.
“There are 20 families suffering here,” MacKenzie said. “We have 14 families that don’t feel comfortable having their cases reported. Either shut down the turbines or relocate the people. It’s not that difficult.”