Global News has a report today on information related to wind turbine noise complaints.
Carla Stachura and her husband Mike thought they’d found the perfect spot to retire.
A house in rural Ontario where they run a wildlife sanctuary with lamas and a variety of birds, and planned to spend their retirement years enjoying the peace and quiet of country life.
But that dream was shattered when wind turbines began popping up near their Goderich, Ontario home. Since then, their dream has become a nightmare. The couple says they’ve been unable to sleep and exposed to prolonged periods of annoying noise. Adding to their frustration, they say the provincial government won’t lift a finger to help them, other than order more tests.
“We’ve been having issues since they turned the turbines on,” said Carla.
The couple purchased the property in 2003. They say it was paradise until the K2 Wind Farm, operated by Pattern Energy, started operations in the spring of 2015.
“I immediately called K2,” Carla said.
Over the past two years, officials from the ministry have measured violations of the province’s noise limits at the couple’s home on two occasions, first in August 2015 and again in March 2017. Despite these violations, the couple says the government has done nothing other than order more tests.
Ministry of Environment does not respond to majority of wind turbine complaints
The Stachura’s complaints of government inaction are not unique. In fact, Global News has learned that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change does not respond to the majority of complaints made by residents concerned about wind turbines.
Documents released through Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act and obtained by Global News reveal officials from the Ministry of Environment chose not to investigate or deferred responding to – meaning they did not make immediate plans to investigate – roughly 68 per cent of all noise and health complaints lodged against wind turbine operators in the province between 2006 and 2014. This represents nearly 2,200 individual complaints.
The documents also show limited resources sometimes prevented the ministry from responding to complaints.
Originally obtained by Wind Concerns Ontario, the documents include a list of 3,180 complaints. They also include a 458-page collection of “master incident reports,” which the ministry has verified as authentic, detailing the ministry’s response – or lack thereof – in cases where residents complained multiple times.
The documents show that in 54 per cent of all cases – more than 1,700 individual complaints – the ministry did not investigate residents’ concerns. In another 450 cases, roughly 14 per cent of total incidents, the ministry deferred responding to complaints.
In most cases, the documents do not reveal why the ministry chose not to respond. Instead, they tend to focus on whether the wind farm was compliant with ministry standards or past efforts to resolve residents’ concerns.
“The lack of response from the ministry shows just how unprepared they were for the potential effects of putting these giant machines so close to people and their communities,” said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
Read more here, and watch the story today on Global News.
Two wind power projects have contracts but not Renewable Energy Approvals yet in the Ottawa area: the Nation Rise project in North Stormont (Finch, Berwick) and Eastern Fields in The Nation (St Bernardin, Casselman).
Wind Concerns Ontario is recommending that approvals not be granted for these projects, and that new tougher noise standards be developed for turbines, and enforced.
Wind Concerns Ontario has released a report based on documents received via Freedom of Information request that shows the Ontario government’s process to deal with citizen complaints about wind farm noise is flawed.
From the news release on the website today:
[Documents] show that almost 3,200 reports of noise complaints were made in 2006-2014. In more than half, the government took no action.
“When Premier Dalton McGuinty brought in the Green Energy Act in 2009, he promised the people of rural Ontario to address concerns about health and safety from the turbines,” Wind Concerns Ontario president Jane Wilson said. “But they already had multiple complaints about wind turbine noise from 2006 onward, and they were unable and even unwilling to deal with them. This is failure of a government to protect people.
“Their goal appears to be protecting the interests of power development corporations instead.”
Ontario families called the MOECC hotline to report sleep disturbance, headaches, and dizziness from the wind turbine noise emissions. Some were desperate and reported not having slept for days, even weeks at a time.
The reports show, however, that ministry staff had no protocols or guidelines to deal with noise complaints and that high-level directives blocked staff from responding. Staff were told to rely on computer noise models provided by power developers instead of actual noise measurement.
“The noise models said that the turbine noise levels were safe, and within regulations,” Wilson explains, “but complaints continued — the Ministry did nothing. The MOECC chose power developers, their ‘clients,’ over Ontario families.”
Many reports referred to vibration or “pulsing” sensations from the huge turbines, but the MOECC restricted responses to audible noise alone.
“People just gave up and stopped calling,” Wilson, a Registered Nurse, says. “Then, in many cases, the Ministry simply closed their files. There was no help for these people from their government.”
A revised Compliance Protocol was released by the government on April 21, but contains no substantive change to the complaint process.
Wind Concerns Ontario recommends that no more approvals or Notices To Proceed be granted for wind power projects, and that the government develop and enforce new, tougher noise standards.
The full report is available at www.windconcernsontario.ca
Excerpts from the documents:
“ … noise emissions are causing an adverse effect..” Note by MOECC field officer, March, 2010
“…no resources for after-hours monitoring…” Note by MOECC staff November, 2015
[Wind turbine noise] “Sounds like a jet engine roaring” Citizen report, March, 2013
“House [is] vibrating…” Citizen report, February, 2011
“Staff have no options to address complaint” MOECC staff, November 2015
Wind Concerns Ontario can be reach via firstname.lastname@example.org
environmental effects wind farms, MOECC, Ontario government, renewable energy, tonal noise wind turbines, William Palmer, wind farm, wind farm noise, wind turbine, Wind Turbine Noise 2017, Wynne government
Noise measurement protocol needlessly complex, failing to identify critical issues with wind turbine noise, Ontario engineer says.
He used MOECC data to confirm “tonal” quality to wind turbine noise emissions. One project has been operating for eight years — residents continue to complain, no action by Ontario government
Ontario engineer William Palmer has proposed a rigorous, but simple and transparent technique to assess wind turbine noise, that could replace the problematic complex computer models and “black box” algorithms currently used in the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change newest protocol to assess wind turbine noise compliance.
Speaking at the International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise that took place in Rotterdam beginning May 2, Palmer said of his proposed method,
The method had to consider that an effective monitoring system must take into account more than just averaging sound power levels over a long term. The method recognizes that humans are bothered by the changes and annoying characteristics that occur, as well as long term averages. Others describe this as the need to determine how the special characteristics of sound quality may impact quality of life.
To verify this approach, assessments were conducted using the method at two wind power developments in Ontario. In the K2 Wind project, he used MOECC data from testing in early March 2017 at a home within the K2 project. He was able to demonstrate that the MOECC data confirmed that the noise from the turbines surrounding the home had a tonal quality; that means it should require a 5 dB(A) penalty be applied to the other test results.
Although the Ministry did not provide calibration files for their sound recordings they did provide in their report their assessment of the sound pressure level for each sample. Using the Electroacoustics Toolbox, and working backwards to set the given sound pressure level for a number of the recordings provided as the calibration level, permitted a “Quasi Calibration” of the Ministry data, and from that a calibrated FFT analysis was made. … Again, it was seen that when the residents described adverse effects in their comments filed with their initiation of recordings, FFT analysis of the sound recordings taken at those times clearly show a tonal condition occurring at about 450 Hz.
In the Enbridge project, where Mr. Palmer also conducted testing, he found similar tonal quality to the noise emissions in that project, and confirmed that the noise coming from the turbines is above the approved levels at several locations.
For this facility as an example, where the turbines first went into operation in November 2008, and citizen complaints occurred soon after, it has not yet been possible to complete a report to demonstrate compliance. The monitoring is still in progress, over 8 years later, with the turbines continuing in operation, and residents continuing to complain. The hypothesis is that individual samples are not representative due to variation.
Process is complex
He offered comment on the current protocol being used to assess compliance by the MOECC:
A premise of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change wind turbine monitoring protocol is that monitoring to show compliance must be conducted over a long period. The protocol requires the initial acoustic monitoring by residents to produce at least a 10-minute sample for each complaint period, and the final compliance protocol requires a minimum of 120 one-minute measurement intervals for each integer of wind speed. During each of those one-minute intervals there must be no changes in wind speed or direction. A further 60 samples are required for each integer wind speed with the turbines not operational. So far data collection has taken years to obtain a sufficient number of samples, and in at least one array, initial reports showed that over 90% of samples taken were discarded as non-compliant. All samples are logarithmically combined to determine the Leq produced by the facility, which eliminates any short-term change effects. This appears to be precisely the sort of monitoring that was cautioned against by Genuit and Fiebig described in Section 1 when they noted, “By relying on sound pressure levels averaged over long time periods and suppressing all aspects of quality, the specific properties of environmental noise situations cannot be identified, because annoyance caused by environmental noise has a broader linkage with various acoustical properties such as frequency spectrum, duration, impulsive, tonal and low-frequency components, etc. than only with SPL [Sound Pressure Level]. In many cases these acoustical properties affect the quality of life.”
The annoyance aspects that impact the quality of life of impacted residents are not being assessed.
People walking away from loved homes
The current protocol cannot possibly identify critical issues in wind turbine noise emissions, Palmer asserts. In conclusion, he said:
This paper has demonstrated a method for rigorous monitoring of wind turbine sound. The goal of the method was to establish evidence for the condition noted by Karl D. Kryter: “The most direct, and perhaps most valid, insight into the possible presence and magnitude of stress reactions in general living environments is probably that which has been obtained from attitude surveys and real-life behaviour of people.” Behaviours such as walking away from an unsold loved home to live at the home of a family member, or when normal people become activists in trying to communicate their concerns provide such valid insights. The rigorous method had to consider the present acceptance criterion for wind turbines, in light of the insight given by those who study the quality of noise and its relation to annoyance. Those who study the subject identify that, “Current acceptance criterion relying on sound pressure levels averaged over long time periods and suppressing all aspects of quality cannot identify the specific properties of environmental noise situations.”
The results reported by Bill Palmer are typical of the community testing being undertaken in many communities near wind turbine projects across Ontario.
These findings indicate that the complex processes used by the MOECC and required of wind companies for compliance testing fail to identify key issues that can be quickly identified using much simpler techniques.
Meanwhile, the turbines, shown by other methods to be out of compliance, continue to operate.
[Re-posted from Wind Concerns Ontario]
community opposition wind farm, Glen Murray, infrasound wind turbines, low frequency noise, MOECC, Ontario, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, renewable energy, tonal noise wind turbines, wind farm, wind farm noise, wind farm siting, wind mill, wind power, wind turbine, wind turbine noise
New Ontario wind turbine noise compliance protocol falls short
As in, little or no understanding of the problems with wind turbine noise emissions.
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.
- 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
- 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
Brinston wind farm, environmental impact wind farms, Goderich, health effects wind farm noise, infrasound wind turbines, K2 wind, low frequency noise wind turbines, MOECC, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, renewable energy, Scott Miller CTV, South Branch wind farm, wind farm infrasound, wind farm noise, wind turbine noise
Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to conduct more tests on homes near Goderich; wind corporation says it is confident the power project is operating legally
April 11, 2017
CTV News London is reporting that several residents living near the K2 wind power project have received notification from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) that the turbines near their homes, and causing them to report excessive noise, are in fact out of compliance with provincial noise regulations for the power generating machines.
In the conclusion of the “Acoustic Recording Quantitative Screening Measurement Report” of testing performed by the MOECC recently, the MOECC states
… it is acknowledged that sound from the wind turbines was audible during the measuring campaign at levels that appear to exceed the applicable sound level limits, and based on C3 measurements conducted at a nearby receptor (the distance is about 1250 m from R876; where the same turbine(s) within 1500 m distance impact both receptors) it was further concluded that there is a possibility that sound from the nearby turbines could be tonal.
The use of the word “tonal” is key as the MOECC–and the wind power industry–have up to now refused to admit that the noise emissions from turbines are tonal, or producing vibration.
The complaints voiced by people living near turbines, however, seem to indicate that pressure or vibration is a key feature of the emissions being experienced.
See the CTV London video here:
K2 wind is located in Huron County and is operated by a consortium of Capital Power, Pattern Energy, Manulife, and the Alberta Teachers pension fund.
Residents near the South Branch project are reminded that they should report any adverse effects from wind turbine noise to the MOECC Spills Action Centre by calling 1-800-268-6060. Callers should provide their name and telephone number, location, location relative to the nearest wind turbines, direction of the wind and wind speed if available (this can be noted from weather data on your cellphone), and a rating of the noise/vibration on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most severe.
Callers should be sure to get an INCIDENT REPORT reference number at the time of their call, and keep a record of their call(s) together with the reference numbers.
Carol Anne Meehan, Chatham-Kent, environmental damage wind farms, groundwater safety, MInistry of the Environment and Climate Change, MOECC, Nation Township, Ontario, Ottawa news 1310, Water Wells First, Wynne government
July 16, 2016
Here is a podcast from News 1310 Carol Anne Meehan show with an interview she did with Water Wells First Kevin Jakubec of Dover Township on the effect wind turbines have had on the groundwater and local wells for homes and farms.
His group is reacting to three years of disturbed wells, due to nearby wind turbines. The wind power developer has offered bottled water to residents … not much help for farm owners with livestock.
Water Wells First has demanded the resignation of the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Glen Murray.
Our question: what will be the effect of the vibrations from the construction and operation of wind turbines in Nation Township which everyone knows is sitting on Leda Clay?
Landowners need to consider this before signing any option or lease.
Wind turbine noise testing needs total overhaul, Wind Concerns Ontario tells MOECC
June 27, 2016, OTTAWA – Ontario needs to do a complete revision of procedures for wind turbine noise testing, Wind Concerns Ontario has informed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) in a review of proposed regulatory changes.
According to WCO, the growing scientific research on wind turbine noise emissions and the escalating number of unresolved complaints confirm that proposed changes to the government’s old protocol are insufficient to address the problems faced by people living among wind turbine projects.
“The changes the Ministry has proposed to its existing procedures are nothing more than minor tweaks,” says president Jane Wilson. “The government is ignoring the need for real change to keep up with science, and to protect health from noise emissions.”
By 2015, the MOECC had received more than 2,700 complaints about problems with wind turbine noise, WCO learned. Though more recent data are not available, monitoring by WCO suggests that this number has continued to grow with the number of larger new turbines that have become operational since then.
Proposed new testing procedures are inadequate as they limit testing to audible noise outside of the home, while many citizen complaints relate to turbine noise emissions that people cannot hear, but rather, are vibrations or sensations that they feel, says WCO. And, while many complaints are about the noise and sensation experienced inside buildings, the MOECC only tests outside noise.
“The MOECC persists in the standard of using one form of noise measurement, the dBA, while the acoustics industry and even the Government of Canada has said this is providing only part of the picture on noise emissions,” Wilson says.
The process of confirming turbine compliance with regulations is convoluted and complex — people have lost trust in the Ontario government, WCO says. For example, the Enbridge project near Kincardine began operation in late 2008 but there is still no report that confirms the turbines are compliant.
The MOECC also relies on information from the power developers, and predicted modelling — not actual noise testing. This has resulted in a loss of faith in the Wynne government as a protector of public health.
Rather than dismissing resident complaints, WCO told the Ministry in a comment document in response to proposed regulatory changes, the government should view these contacts as an opportunity to learn and show leadership in responsible renewable energy implementation.
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of community groups and citizens concerned about the impact of industrial-scale wind power projects on the economy, the environment, and health.
Contact Jane Wilson at email@example.com
“If government and the wind power development industry is using only A-weighted noise measurement or dBA, they are only getting part of the picture.”
“Wind turbines have been found out of compliance via third-party measurements, yet the MOECC does not act on these findings. The MOECC also does not report publicly on complaints or actions taken as it does for other complaints made to the ministry ‘Spills Line’. ”
“Using only computer-generated predictive noise models does not reflect the reality of wind turbine noise emission experiences in Ontario. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change needs to do actual, on-site testing in conditions similar to or the same as those that spurred a citizen complaint to assure Ontarians it is fulfilling its mandate to protect people.”
See the WCO comment document filed with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change here: ResponsetoNoiseProtocol-June16FINAL