September 8, 2013

Wind turbines coming to the HSF? The pros and cons

By Rachel Garber | The Record | September 8, 2013 |

I’m on the road to Saint-Robert-Bellarmin in Le Granit, with about 12 kilometres to go. I see them in the distance, 17 wind turbines emerging above the treetops. Each gleaming white tower supports three slender blades. Their distribution seems to follow the formation of the hills, like a huge work of environmental art. Their beauty inspires awe.
I think of Running Fence, that legendary land sculpture that Christo and Jeanne-Claude created in California in 1976. A huge white nylon sheet, 18 feet high and mounted on steel rods, meandered over about 40 kilometres of hills. It was in place for two weeks. Now no trace of it remains but in memory and in photos.
In contrast, the wind farm in Saint-Robert-Bellarmin is built to last. The turbines are 52 in all. And as I get closer, their size seems to grow. Each blade is perhaps 130 feet long. The towers average about 250 feet high. All told, together they generate about 105 megawatts of electricity. That’s what about 23,652 households use.
The turbines belong to two projects. The Granit MRC owns 30 per cent of 12 of them. The majority owner is EDF EN Canada, part of the green energy pioneer EDF Energies Nouvelles.

The prospect has prompted the Haut-Saint-François to draft a set of regulations to govern any new wind turbine developments. The draft was presented to citizens in three open meetings. Briefs and comments were received from citizens in three subsequent meetings. Then the MRC’s committee revised the draft. The entire text is posted at the MRC’s website, It is to be voted on at the next MRC board meeting, September 18. Then it is subject to approval by the government of Quebec.

One of the major concerns raised by citizens at the public hearings was the noise level. The new regulations permit the turbines to work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and the noise limit is 40 decibels at 750 metres (2,460 feet). That’s about equivalent to the noise you hear in a library. It’s less than a quiet street or a noisy office. That’s what a Quebec government report says.

Please see The Record Monday for the complete story.

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