Ministry of Environment and Climate Change officials say they’re holding UNIFOR to the law over its wind turbine exceeding noise limits, but Saugeen Shores councillors are not convinced.
MOECC Owen Sound district manager Rick Chappell says an acoustic audit for the union’s Port Elgin wind turbine conducted last year came back incomplete, but says there was enough data to suggest the turbine may have been exceeding noise standards.
He says the MOECC issued an order for UNIFOR to submit a temporary mitigation plan while the union carries out further testing at its family education centre at the south end of Port Elgin.
Chappell says the results of that testing will be submitted by the end of June, which will help determine the next steps for bringing the turbine back into compliance.
“We’re looking for additional data to hopefully meet the requirements of the compliance protocol,” says Chappell. “We’re also looking for data to support the mitigation measures currently in place to determine if [UNIFOR] are in compliance.”
Chappell says the UNIFOR wind turbine has a nameplate rating of 800-kilowatts, which was de-rated to 500-kilowatts upon it entering operation in 2013, and has been further de-rated to 300-kilowatts in hopes of bringing the turbine back into compliance.
Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau says he’s not buying what the ministry is selling, pointing out residents living in the area of the turbine began complaining about noise as soon as the turbine went into operation five years ago and it took the MOECC until now to recognize the issue.
He says he has no confidence the ministry will hold UNIFOR accountable if further issues arise after the testing is completed.
“What confidence can we have that with all of this in place, when complaints keep coming in, and I’m sure they’ll keep coming in, that we won’t be in the same place we were in in 2014, complaints coming in, it’s too loud and the [MOECC] doing nothing,” says Charbonneau. “I’ve received no assurance tonight that there will be anything different.”
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