SAUGEEN SHORES – Unconfirmed reports that UNIFOR did not complete acoustic testing of its wind turbine by the June 30 deadline, as promised to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), prompted renewed calls to shut the turbine down if it cannot be proven to be operating within provincial noise guidelines.
Town CAO David Smith told councillors at the July 10 committee of the whole meeting that unofficially, the consultant hired to do a peer review of the turbine test results, said the testing was not completed, so the Town contacted the MOECC and Ontario Ombudsman for updates, who indicated the deadline was missed, but not officially.
Coun. Dave Myette said the missed deadline left him “disappointed but not surprised” and asked if the testing was not completed.
or the results were not compiled.
Smith said he did not want to speculate, but said testing did occur, and the Town’s peer consultant was contacted about where to place the audit equipment receptors, but that the amount of rainfall may have hampered getting adequate test data, and leaves on trees may have also hampered the testing.
“My sense is this: they didn’t get… enough sample that would articulate all the different wind conditions… we expect they will be asking for an extension,” Smith said.
A frustrated Saugeen Shores Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau said missing the testing deadline should lead to a turbine shutdown, but he is not confident that will happen because the “ministry isn’t super keen on sorting it out,” Charbonneau said.
Since it began operating five years ago, hundreds of noise complaints – mainly health-related – have been lodged with UNIFOR and the MOECC by neighbours of the wind turbine in south Port Elgin, but other than UNIFOR’s promise to conduct the testing, no results have been offered. Earlier this spring, the Town voted to hire a consultant to do a peer review of the UNIFOR turbine testing.
Charbonneau said the noise complaints continue, including one person who complained 20 times from May 22 to June 14, during testing.
“Of course, we’ve been waiting for 18 months for the wind to blow just right to test this turbine, and it never seems to blow right, but the wind has blown hard enough and has been just fine in the last six weeks to generate a great deal of complaints,” he said, adding another resident complained seven times, backed with data from a hand-held decibel test equipment showing the turbine may have been operating outside it allowable noise limit. He said another resident complained three times, but felt it was futile to continue with more complaints.
“The wind isn’t blowing hard enough to meet Ministry of Environment criteria, but it’s blowing plenty hard to annoy people living close to the turbine, and like the turbine, we spin around and around and keep spinning.”
Charbonneau asked the CAO to return with an update as soon as he can, and if it turns out the testing was not completed, that Council write another letter to the MOECC and ask them to make the testing mandatory, and if it is not completed by a set date, the turbine be shut down.
Charbonneau noted the testing equipment set up recently was not in the area where complaints had been received, and they should insist that noise receptors be located in areas of complaints.
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