HURON COUNTY – A Port Hope man who filed a complaint against a wind farm in 2016 is making headway with county officials after a board of commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
At the meeting, about nine people came to the defense of Robert Gaffke, saying his nearly two-year-old ongoing complaint against Big Turtle Wind Farm ought to be resolved by the board of commissioners.
Gaffke argues in a complaint that wind turbines near his home are too loud. As required in the 2010 county complaint resolution process, Heritage Sustainable Energy LLC, which owns the wind farm, hired Epsilon Associates Inc. to conduct sound-level testing on Gaffke’s property. However, Gaffke refused to allow Epsilon on his property, citing what he believed as erroneous testing methods it had used in other complaints.
As a result, Epsilon eventually tested at a property nearly three-quarters of a mile from Gaffke’s residence in May 2017. Epsilon’s report said sound levels were in compliance, but the testing did not meet all the criteria of standards and protocols that are required, according to Jeff Smith, the county building and zoning director. Despite that, the protocols used in the test by Epsilon were approved by the Huron County Planning Commission, Smith said.
“Huron County Corporation Counsel had stated during a planning commission meeting that the county should accept the results of the Epsilon report at face value,” Smith added in an email to the VIEW.
At the meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner John A. Nugent addressed the people who voiced their defense of Gaffke.
“Since you all seem to be on the same page with this … I’ll treat it as one person,” Nugent said, “If the board were to agree to have a third party review the data that Epsilon has already provided, would you be satisfied with that even if it ruled against you?”
Gaffke, saying he speaks for the group, said hiring an entity to review the data that was taken from a location near his property would show due diligence and would “go a long way with this group of people.”
At this, Smith said Epsilon has provided valid testing in other locations and has testing results based on modeling before the turbines were built, but he doubted the validity of the testing conducted closest to Gaffke’s residence.
“The location that they used to prove compliance at Mr. Gaffke’s would not, to me, cut the mustard,” said Smith, referring to the location of where the testing equipment was set up. “I don’t doubt the report in totality, but I don’t believe the location they used to show compliance at Mr. Gaffke’s can show compliance.”
So, reviewing that data from that location, like Nugent suggested, is a concern if the test is invalid to begin with, Smith said.
“The only way to make it conclusive for a complaint is to test at his location,” Smith said. “So I think Mr. Nugent, maybe the board, should consider having someone come and test at Mr. Gaffke’s location. Obviously he’s not going to trust what I do there from his comments he has publicly stated at meetings.”
The goal of hiring an independent third party to test at Gaffke’s location is to gather sound levels and then compare them to the results that Epsilon has provided, Smith said.
After the meeting, Gaffke told the Huron County VIEW he would allow a third-party entity hired by the county on to his property, if the proper protocols and standards are followed.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding