The buckling of a wind turbine tower in the southern area of Chatham-Kent is another reason to be concerned about a proposed wind farm in Dutton Dunwich.
The incident occurred sometime between late Jan. 18 and early Jan. 19 at the Raleigh Wind Energy Centre on 16 Line.
The tower appeared to be broken in half with the top half inverted and the wind blades damaged by the impact. No one was injured.
Dutton Dunwich Mayor Cameron McWilliam said the incident particularly concerning because the original owners of the Raleigh project – Invenergy – is the same company behind the proposed project in his municipality.
“Normally when that happens, any new construction it’s all halted until it can be determined what happened,” he said Monday. “It just makes sense.”
McWilliam said he has always had an issue with how the Dutton Dunwich project – known as the Strong Breeze Wind Project – proposes setbacks of 550 metres from a house, which he said is not far enough considering the greater length of the towers.
The turbines at the Raleigh farm are 80 metres high, according to a 2009 document from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. But Invenergy has proposed the towers in Dutton Dunwich be 110 metres high.
“A taller structure has a bigger turbine, bigger blades,” said McWilliam. “It’s just common sense prevails that you know there’s going to be more noise and more potential for vibration.”
The collapse was a first for Chatham-Kent, which is home to over 500 wind turbines.
McWilliam said he believes “they’ve just been lucky in Chatham-Kent.” He pointed to other incidents in Europe, as well as a turbine that caught fire in Huron County.
Jamie Littlejohn, a spokesperson with Dutton Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines, said it could only take one turbine collapse in his municipality to cause injuries.
“If one person is killed, what does that mean? I guess it just depends on how you value things, I suppose,” he said.
Littlejohn said he mostly blames the provincial government more because they are allowing wind companies to move ahead without addressing residents’ concerns.
He said he would like to see the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change take action following the Chatham-Kent incident, but doesn’t expect them to do much.
“I want them to put a stop to them all. That’s what I would like to see happen, not just in Dutton Dunwich, but throughout Ontario,” he said.
“That’s what I would like to see, until the engineering is looked at a little better, find out what actually happened. There should be a moratorium on them.”
McWilliam said he has received several emails from community members about the incident in Chatham-Kent and he expects his council will discuss it at a future meeting.
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