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New Ontario wind turbine noise compliance protocol falls short

Way short.

As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.

New noise protocol misses all the problems

 

On Friday, April 21, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change released a new protocol document intended for “assessing noise from wind turbines that have already been built. It is used by industry and ministry staff to monitor compliance.”

While in the absence of guidance for staff, and the complete lack of compliance audit information from wind power developers and operators, this is a step forward, the truth is, the protocol doesn’t change much.

Here’s why:

  • the protocol still relies on audible noise only, when many of the complaints registered with the MOECC concern effects that are clearly linked to other forms of noise
  • the protocol does not take into account lower wind speeds, which is where problems are being experienced, particularly with newer, more powerful turbines
  • there is no comment on any sort of transition between the protocol that existed before and this one

Improvements:

  • the Ministry’s action in producing this protocol is an indication that they know they have a problem
  • the description of Ministry response is a good step forward
  • requiring wind power companies to actually have, and to publish, compliance audit documents could be a sign of expectations of greater accountability among the power developers/wind power project operators.

This table outlines the critical gaps in the new protocol document.

 

Issue     Protocol Requirements Actual Experiences
Wind Speeds Assessment of noise at wind speeds between 4 m/s and 7 m/s MOECC testing indicates problem noise starts below 3 m/s which is outside of wind speeds involved in the protocol.
Ambient Noise Narrow time period assessed Wide seasonal variations while wind turbine noise constant
Location Only test outside of home Very different inside noise conditions
Tonal Assessments Uses criticized techniques Narrow band analysis shows tonal noise present.
Resident Input None Resident concerns drive other MOECC procedures
Frequencies Excludes Infrasound Elevated levels of infrasound in homes

 The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to acknowledge that there is a problem with wind turbine noise, and accept that it must play a role as a government agency charged with protecting the environment and people in it — preparing an industry-led document may look like a positive step, but this document does not meet the needs of the people of Ontario forced to live with wind turbines, and their noise emissions.

Wind Concerns Ontario

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