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Changes not enough, opponents claim

STELLA – Opponents of a proposed wind energy project on Amherst Island submitted their official response to the most recent change to the project.

In a technical six-page letter, physics professor John Harrison, vice-president of the Association to Protect Amherst Island, said despite a reduction in the number of wind turbines in the project, noise levels from the turbines would not be significantly lower.

In mid-May, Windlectric Inc. announced it would remove nine of up to 36 turbines from its project proposal and alter the collection lines it plans to build on the island.

The fourth modification to the project would see the number of turbines reduced from as many as 36 to 27.

The original mix of 21 2.300 megawatt turbines and 15 2.221 megawatt turbines is to change to a combination of 12 2.942 megawatt turbines and 15 2.772 megawatt turbines.

To compensate for the smaller numbers and to meet energy production targets, Windlectric is now proposing to use higher-power turbines.

“Modification #4 includes, among other changes, the removal of nine potential turbine locations from the proposed project layout,” the company wrote in a July 2 clarification of the change.

“This change results in a reduction in sound levels at all receptors and a significant reduction in the associated construction activities such as foundation and access road building.”

Following Windlectric’s announced change, APAI members were told by the Ministry of Energy and Climate Change officials that the government had determined the latest change reduced the project’s impact on the environment and did not require public comment.

That did not stop APAI from submitting an analysis of the clarification report.

“This is nonsense,” Harrison wrote about it.

Harrison wrote the predicted noise reduction was so small that it could be lost in the margin of error. He wrote that the predictions were also based on ideal conditions, not worse case conditions.

Harrison wrote that his analysis showed the higher power turbines would actually increase in many places.

“The sound pressure level at some receptors has clearly diminished in the vicinity of the turbine sites removed from the site plan,” Harrison wrote. “However, any difference in sound pressure level at all receptors cannot be put down to removing nine turbine sites.

“Our analysis demonstrates that the new turbines will increase the sound pressure level at very many receptors.”

Harrison called for the provincial government to allow the project’s noise data to be reviewed by energy ministry staff or an independent consultant.

“It makes so much more sense to deal with this before approval, rather than have to solve the problem once $260 million dollars has been spent and the island has been destroyed," Harrison wrote.