Wind Industry Victims Vindicated: Endless Noise Complaints Force Giant Wind Farm Shutdown in Ontario

Finally, Huron County farmers driven nuts by incessant wind turbine noise have forced the shut down of their giant industrial tormentors.

Ontario’s government has been in bed with the wind industry from the beginning, ignoring, bullying and berating wind farm neighbours with the temerity to complain about the grinding, thumping cacophony dished up by these things on a daily basis. Now, finally, after years of fighting simply to be heard, Ontario’s farmers are getting a taste of what representative and responsible government might look like.

In a result that couldn’t come soon enough for the Huron County farming families forced to live with it, an Order has just been made shutting down 140 turbines near Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh. The order was made simply because their operator, K2 Wind can’t comply with the conditions of its planning permit or even Ontario’s (extremely lax) noise regulations. Needless to say, the local farmers’ delight is matched only by brewing wind industry fury.

K2 Wind ordered to comply with Ontario noise regulations
Wind Concerns Ontario
25 May 2019

One of Ontario’s largest wind power projects, K2 Wind, a 140-turbine project in the Township of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh in Huron County, has been found out of compliance with conditions of its Renewable Energy Approval, and Ontario noise regulations.

The operator for the project has been issued an Order by the Director of the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to act immediately to develop and implement a Noise Abatement Plan and further, to conduct an acoustic audit to confirm compliance.

The K2 Wind power project began operation in 2015; documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request by Wind Concerns Ontario show that the Ontario Liberal government had received more than 400 complaints about wind turbine noise and other adverse effects by the end of 2016. [1]

Residents have continued to complain about the project and earlier this year, testing took place at several homes where families have persisted in filing reports of excessive noise and vibration/sensation.

The Provincial Officer’s Order instructs K2 Wind Ontario Inc. to undertake various actions related to the project. By June 14, they are to have developed and implemented interim abatement measures to bring the project into compliance with the Noise Performance Limits of the project. A range of options were provided for these changes including:

  1. Limiting the number of hours during a twenty-four (24) hour period during which the Equipment operates;
  2. De-rating the wind turbines to reduce the Sound Levels emitted from the Equipment; or
  3. Curtailing the operation of the Equipment under specific conditions, such as wind speed and direction [2].

Details of the changes made are to be provided to the Ministry by June 17.

In addition, the project operator is to engage an Acoustical Consultant who is to prepare and submit a Noise Abatement Action Plan (NAAP) by July 19. This NAAP is to include:

  1. Mitigation measures to ensure that the Facility is operating in compliance with the Noise Performance Limits;
  2. Detailed timelines for the implementation of the NAAP: and
  3. The submission and the timeline for completion of a new I-Audit, including Tonal Assessments, to verify that implementation of the NAAP have achieved compliance with the Noise Performance Limits.

The Order is unusual in the history of the Ontario government managing complaints about wind turbine noise and other emissions, says Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson. “Up to now, resident complaints have been largely ignored by the Ministry. The documents we received showed the response rate had actually declined, and the Ministry did not seem prepared to take any action at all against the wind power operators, who are classified as the ‘Client’ in Ministry documents.

“This is a departure in tone and intent,” Wilson says.

In closing arguments at the appeal of the Nation Rise wind power project last August, Ministry lawyer Paul McCulloch claimed that evidence presented by Wilson based on the government records of noise complaints was not to be taken seriously by the Environmental Review Tribunal because the complaints (though recorded by government Environmental Officers who are also classed as Public Officers under the Criminal Code of Canada) should have been supported by medical opinion.

In a letter to Carla Stachura, a homeowner living among K2 Wind turbine who has been stalwart on filing reports of wind turbine noise, Environmental Officer Natasha Munn stated: “The ministry has directed Pattern Energy to review the information from your complaints as part of the overall assessment. The information submitted will be assessed using the 2017 Compliance Protocol for Wind Turbine Noise.”

“That is really important,” says Jane Wilson. “Resident reports of excessive noise are to be taken seriously and evaluated, as stipulated in the Renewable Energy Approvals.”

Noise abatement has been required before, notably in the case of the Unifor turbine in Port Elgin, a problematic turbine that has been de-rated twice, and now operates at 300 kW — while the complaints keep being filed with residents, regardless of abatement.

A noise abatement plan was suggested, but not ordered, for multiple turbines in the Melancthon project but there is no evidence in government records that this ever happened, and complaints continue to be filed.

It is unclear what effect if any this Order could have on the Nation Rise project which is now in Direct Appeal to the Minister; while K2 Wind’s new audits will be assessed against the newer 2017 noise limits while Nation Rise (also owned in part by Axium Infrastructure) was allowed to submit its renewable energy application using the old limits, despite not having specified the turbine models to be used.

Read a copy of the Director’s Order here Order-NUMBER-8710-BBPLMC-3:

[1] Wind Concerns Ontario has also requested records from 2017 and 2018, neither of which have been fulfilled.

[2] Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Provincial Officer’s Order, 8710-BBPJA8, dated May 23, 2019.
Wind Concerns Ontario

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Please do not promote or have a false hope that compliance with noise regulations that are known to be inadequate will protect victims.

    In this case at K2, victims have been vindicated in that throughout the period of their torment, the regulator now acknowledges that on some occasions the turbines were operating NON-compliant with regulations and therefore ILLEGALLY.

    However it has not been revealed whether any fines will be imposed, any remedy provided to the victims, or whether there will be any punitive consequences whatsoever for the owner/operators.

    With this new evidence, maybe the victims could bring a claim for nuisance and trespass, but some of these people already spent a fortune trying to prevent the project from being built and may be financially tapped out and physically and psychologically depleted.

    Our legal system in Ontario is very burdensome and seeking relief through the courts is so expensive it’s illusory: whoever has the most money, or whoever the (biased) Attorney General favours and puts its (our) weight behind, wins. This is not justice.

    Examining how and why the noise prediction models that were used during the development of these projects were not accurate should have been undertaken by the Ontario regulators a decade ago. But now, in 2019, thanks to the work of volunteers globally, it is known that the current noise protection Regulations are practically meaningless, not fit for purpose, and will not protect neighbours.

    Anything that bolsters the argument that meeting these inappropriate compliance standards is the goal, only benefits the industry and regulators who refuse to acknowledge the faultiness of the regulations. It’s an excuse to avoid taking more drastic measures that might actually protect residents, ignores the state of our scientific understandings, and retards the global discourse about how reconcile wind turbine public health disasters.

    • “….but some of these people already spent a fortune trying to prevent the project from being built and may be financially tapped out and physically and psychologically depleted.” You’re right about that!
      After dealing with the harm from turbines since March of 2015, residents are “depleted”. They’ve lost all faith in the agents of the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Health. If people have to do what it took for the unusually persistent residents who have finally been vindicated, it will never happen. The wind company must be forced to measure noise from all of their turbines to each and every home in the entire project.
      Also, the wind company has never acknowledged the harm from low frequency noise and infrasound. They deny it is happening. Even some residents deny the harm from low frequency noise and infrasound, but denying it doesn’t protect them from this ‘silent killer’ . The harm is said to be both cumulative and irreversible according to expert, Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira. She has said that knowing what she knows about the harm from wind turbines, she would not live within 20 km from a turbine. This statement is in the public domain.
      So this news about non- compliance declaration regarding noise is good news, but ultimately the turbines that are sited too close to peoples’ homes need to be turned off in order to protect the innocent men, women and children whose homes have been made unsafe. They did not consent to being harmed. This is a human rights violation.
      Who granted the patents for these turbines? Who were the engineers who approved these turbines for sitting in close proximity to homes? Is this not a violation of their oath to do no harm?

  2. TexanForever Thompson says:

    I’ve been among these huge turbines and the noise is unbelievable. And they aren’t environmentally efficient or friendly either, considering the high cost and energy used to manufacture and maintain these monstrosities, they aren’t worth it.

    Screw the companies that are heavily invested in them.

  3. Sherri Lange says:

    Very sorry, your usually accurate postings are in this case needing removal or complete re-write. Ordering compliance is not “shutting them down.” They will continue to operate, as in the referenced UniFor Turbine in Port Elgin: they will re power them down, and continue on their merry way to $$$ land. Am not even sure how much of a “deviance” this is from the Liberal tone. People are honking angry, and this seems another effort to placate. There is according to an inside MPP, zero intent to do anything about turbine hell at this time in Ontario. Please correct this story.

    • Sherri, thanks for your comment. We are happy with the headline and understand the reporting to be correct. The operator is not now permitted to operate in the unrestricted manner of its choosing: its ability to do so has been ‘shutdown’. True enough it would have been a better result for neighbours if the turbines were completely shut down, but a win is a win. If people in Ontario want their new government to do more, then they’ll need to fight harder.

  4. Francis says:

    STT says: “Ontario’s government has been in bed with the wind industry from the beginning,…”
    This was true but it should be pointed out that the government referenced was a Liberal party government led by Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne (Wynne followed McGuinty as premier after his resignation.)
    The Liberals were booted out of office in the provincial election a year ago, losing official party status because they failed to elect the minimum 8 MPPs. (I think they are now down to 5 MPPs after 2 resignations.)
    It is the now-governing conservatives who have brought about “the change in tone” referenced in the article.

  5. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

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