William Palmer of RR 5, Paisley, wants to bring his qualifications to the table as an expert in acoustics and public safety, at the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into the appeal against the proposed Armow Wind facility in Kincardine.
Palmer spent most of Thursday afternoon (Dec. 19), the first day of the hearing in Kincardine, making his case. However, the tribunal has reserved its decision on his qualifications as an expert.
Speaking before chairperson Maureen Carter-Whitney, Palmer stated he is a professional engineer and, as such, is charged with safe-guarding the health and welfare of the public, and ensuring the application of engineering principles.
He has a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Toronto which included a course in engineering communications. He also studied a program on signals from noise, and his thesis was on how noise affects the human body.
A retired Hydro worker at the Bruce Nuclear site, he was a shift supervisor, and an instructor with the training and safety program at Bruce A generating station. He also took a course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in nuclear safety, and was involved in the Environmental Assessment and risk assessment for restarting Units 3 and 4 at Bruce A.
He is a member of the Acoustical Society of Canada, and the Acoustical Society of America.
Since retiring in 2004, he has written scientific papers reviewing the turbine noise profile.
He has requested to be an expert witness on acoustics and the risks to public safety.
Danielle Meuleman, counsel for the director of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE), challenged Palmer’s credentials, stating he would agree that wind power has no place in Ontario.
“Wind power has a place in Ontario if it is economical and safe,” said Palmer.
“But you would agree that the current situation does not support wind power in Ontario,” said Meuleman.
“The current situation has difficulties with economics and public safety because the turbines are not properly sited,” said Palmer, adding that there are some off-grid wind arrays that are appropriately-sited.
Meuleman asked Palmer if he would agree that wind power impacts nuclear energy as well?
“What is being done to the electricity grid is impacting reliability and the price,” said Palmer. “Wind and nuclear could co-exist.”
“But under the current structure, wind and nuclear don’t fit well?” asked Meuleman. “And natural gas plants don’t fit with wind and nuclear?”
“It’s difficult to answer yes or no,” said Palmer. “A large amount of wind requires the derating of other sources, such as coal and nuclear. But wind and natural gas are variable. The decisions we’re making are increasing carbon emissions and costs.”
Pointing to his scientific papers, Meuleman noted that Palmer quotes from numerous sources, but only a few that have opposing views to his, with regard to the adverse health effects caused by wind turbine noise. Ultimately, she said, this does not create a fair and balanced report.
“In fact, you have an entire page stating people’s anecdotal evidence of the health effects from turbines,” said Meuleman. “And the conclusions in your acoustics paper have nothing to do with acoustics at all.”
“Except how the noise impacts on people’s health,” said Palmer.
“One would expect acoustical information in that paper,” argued Meuleman.
She then noted that Palmer had testified at another hearing against wind turbines, but was not qualified as an expert.
“That tribunal made no decision,” said Palmer. “The tribunal allowed me to testify as an expert, but then preferred the testimony of others.”
“On the very issues you want to testify to today – public safety,” said Meuleman.
When asked, Palmer said he was a party to the appeal against the Enbridge Wind development in Kincardine in 2007.
“I was an appellant,” said Palmer. “I was one of 37, three of which maintained full party status, while the rest were represented by one person.”
“Many of those people became members of Wind Concerns Ontario?” asked Meuleman.
“I did,” said Palmer.
Meuleman said Palmer has done case studies on wind power, stating the impact wind has on the economic climate, but he has no economic background.
“I have been collecting data and analyzing it,” said Palmer, “and then I put it forward, using the data. I read a source, a valid source, and people can check that source.”
Meuleman said Palmer has openly disagreed with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment in its statements of the adverse effects of coal use.
“Yes,” said Palmer.
Meuleman asked Palmer if he is an expert on the effect of shadow flicker from wind turbines?
“I have no expertise on the physiological impact of shadow flicker on people,” said Palmer, “but I have done calculations of the shadows and the OPP has said they are a distraction for drivers.”
“All of us could look at that,” said Meuleman. “That does not make you an expert.”
She noted Palmer is not an expert on the health effects from wind turbines – he is just reciting other people’s work.
“I’m presenting research material of other qualified experts,” said Palmer. “I’m not a medical expert. I’m an engineer.”
Alexandria Pike, counsel for the approval holder, Samsung Pattern Armow Wind Ontario GP, asked Palmer if it is fair to say that most of his work on acoustics and wind turbine noise has been self-study?
“Yes, that’s fair,” said Palmer.
She asked what drives him to continue this work.
“Luke 10:27 spurs me on,” said Palmer, noting that when the Enbridge wind farm was being built in his neighbourhood, he was asked for an opinion since he worked in the energy sector.
Initially, he was in favour of green energy as a clean alternative and thought there would be no problem, he said.
“Then I found people suffering (health effects),” he said. “That’s what drives me.”
Pike asked if Palmer’s scientific work had been peer-reviewed.
Palmer said that takes time and financial support.
“And you’ve done no noise-modelling or monitoring? Or had your work subjected to review?” asked Pike.
“I have done monitoring,” said Palmer, “and all my scientific papers are reviewed before they are issued. Plus, they are reviewed at the (acoustical) conference.”
Pike pointed to a paper he presented to the fourth International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise which contained his own scientific work. “There was no technical review of the monitoring and samples you took,” she said.
“This paper was reviewed,” said Palmer.
“Your 2013 report did not follow MOE protocol?” asked Pike.
“When the MOE protocol doesn’t work, you don’t follow it,” argued Palmer.
When asked if he hates wind turbines, Palmer said he does not.
“All things considered, I hate the way they’re presently being installed. They’re hurting people and doing economic harm.”
Pike asked if his mission is to look out for the impacted few?
“As humbly as I can, I’m trying to live my faith,” said Palmer.
Meuleman had no issue with Palmer being qualified as an expert on public safety and acoustics.
However, Pike reserved the opportunity to make further submissions as to his expertise on acoustics, saying his qualifications are not at the level required by the tribunal.
Carter-Whitney said the tribunal requests Palmer return to the hearing when it begins Jan. 6, 2014, and make his witness statements, subject to the tribunal’s decision on his qualifications as an expert.
The appeal, by Ken and Sharon Kroeplin, was launched
Oct. 23 against the proposed Armow Wind Class 4 wind facility, a 92-turbine, 180-megawatt industrial wind farm in Kincardine. The project received approval from the MOE director, through the REA process, Oct. 9.
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