The Ontario government is launching two studies into putting wind farms in waterways, but maintains there are no plans to drop its moratorium on offshore wind-energy development.
“Ontario will not proceed with offshore wind projects until enough scientific evidence exists to demonstrate that any future proposals can be developed in a way that is protective of both human health and the environment,” a spokesperson for the Ontario Environment Ministry said Monday.
Friday, the province invited bids on a study of the noise impact of offshore wind farms.
It’s also seeking experts to study the requirements for decommissioning offshore wind farms.
“These studies will help inform any future decisions on offshore wind development in Ontario,” Kate Jordan of the Ontario Environment Ministry wrote in an e-mail.
In the run-up to the 2011 Ontario election, the McGuinty government placed a moratorium on offshore wind farms, mostly planned for Lakes Huron and Ontario.
Critics claimed it was a crass political move to save Liberal ridings in the face of a public backlash against unsightly wind farms in view of waterfront properties. The government maintained it made the move because there wasn’t enough scientific evidence on wind farms in fresh-water lakes. The moratorium triggered a $2.25-billion lawsuit against the government by Trillium Power Wind Corp., which had plans to build an offshore wind farm near Kingston.
A lower court threw the lawsuit out, but it was reinstated in November 2013 by the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Of the two studies the province has launched, Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, said it would have been nice if the province had done similar studies before it went ahead with wind farms on land. There were no studies, despite calls from more than 30 municipalities for financial-impact studies and cost/benefit studies, she said. “Those were never done, have never been done and are not being done now,” Wilson said.
While Ontario is studying offshore wind farm development, Canadian companies are already involved in such projects. This month, Toronto’s Northland Power, which is developing the Grand Bend Wind Farm, announced it had acquired an 85% stake in three offshore wind projects in German waters.
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WHAT THE PROVINCE IS EXAMINING
Study will look at predicting noise impacts of wind turbines both over water and at land receptors.
Information will be used to formulate future rules or requirements related to noise.
Study will review current literature, but won’t include actual measurements from offshore wind farms.
Study will gather information on how wind turbines and other equipment should be managed at the end of their life cycle .
It will also identify what type of financial assurance should be established.
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