A 29-turbine wind farm is expected to finish construction in March, and be commercially operational by June late spring, the company behind the project said Wednesday.
Nation Rise Wind Farm, is expected to produce 100 megawatts of electricity in North and South Stormont, and already 25 of the turbines have been erected. The power is enough to fuel around 25,600 homes.
The company’s community liaison committee met Wednesday evening to discuss the project with a handful of community members present.
The project was allowed to go ahead after lengthy legal proceedings saw the permit for the operation revoked due to environmental concerns over the negative effects on local bat populations.
“The area is known to be a habitat for endangered species of bats. Bats are killed by the barometric changes resulting from the turbine operations,” said Jane Wilson, the president of Wind Concerns Ontario, which has criticized the project.
To address the environmental concerns, the company committed to a reduced period of activity in the summer months, when bats are most active, when winds are below five metres per second at the turbine height.
One member was concerned about accountability.
“So, if we see a turbine moving when winds are below that speed, what do we do,” asked North Stormont Coun. Steve Densham.
One member of the committee replied nobody can tell how fast wind is moving at the turbine level, since humans aren’t that tall.
“There is a monitor in each tower to log wind speeds,” which can be set to shut down the turbines at certain thresholds, said Kenneth Little, the associate director of the project for EDP Renewables.
The turbines have been tuned to reduce noise levels, although there is no monitoring in place. In 2015, when the turbines first operated, there were enough complaints that the Ministry of Environment conducted a noise audit.
To mitigate the noise and sight problems of the 131-metre-tall turbines, the company agreed to offer $150,000 to homeowners within a 1.5-kilometre radius of the wind farm for home improvements.
The homeowners can collect a maximum of $5,000 from the fund, although depending on the number of applications, they may receive less. To receive the full $5,000, the owners must spend $10,000, as the fund can only cover 33 per cent of the project costs. Applications for the fund will be open for one year after the turbines are operational, and can be found on the Nation Rise website. Wilson says there are about 820 homes within the radius, and many of them may lose value.
Wilson said the noise standard is not adequate.
“The project was ‘grandfathered’ in and allowed to use a noise protocol previous to the one that was revised by the province in 2017,” said Wilson. “They didn’t even know what turbine equipment they were going to use, but managed to dodge the new protocol anyway.”
Vibration monitoring will be done throughout the area, although at a distance from each turbine, said Little. Monitoring equipment will be bored one metre into the bedrock to measure the power of the vibrations. The effect on groundwater is a concern, and a recent health hazard investigation was started in North Kent over possible damages from wind turbines.
“The project area is on what the province has designated a ‘highly vulnerable aquifer’ and there are concerns about what the vibration from construction and operation of the turbines might do,” said Wilson.
Erika Nelson, the senior project manager, told community members not to be concerned about the turbines, as the technology has been used in the company’s 54 wind farms, and team members will monitor the site 24 hours per day using remote monitoring software, as well as perform preventative maintenance.
The committee host, Gabriel Constantin, said there was little need to hold another formal community meeting because of the small attendance, although the team would receive and answer questions personally at least until the project is complete.
The turbines are expected to be commercially operational by June 17 according to the company’s contract.