A very pathetic meeting: Zephyr/Green Breeze
Last night we went to the Green Breeze Energy public info meeting for Zephyr Farm’s “Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm”. It only takes a minute to acclimatized to a room full of wind reps… and make my blood boil. This company was only giving out Timbits at this event, which wasn’t very appetizing (do I really want to eat out of the same little box as them?!).
This project proposes 4 Samsung 2.5MW wind turbines (made in S. Korea), on property owned by one family. It is a fairly sparse populated block that it is located on, BUT, there are neighbours to it.
The project already has it’s OPA agreement under the old 11 cents/KWh agreement. They decided to keep this contract with the lower rate, because if they would have tried for the higher GEA rate, they would have lost their transmission line space….which is maxed out right now, hence no other projects moving forward just yet in this area.
Consultants were Stantec, and they didn’t want to talk about the ‘liens’ in Prince Edward County…at all. He wanted to talk about it later…somewhere else…where others wouldn’t hear, I presume. This Stantec rep was not very helpful, unfortunately. There was a poster on Noise- it had 3 paragraphs, and none of them made sense. First I thought maybe I just wasn’t ‘getting it’, and re-read it. Then I asked him, and his answers were “well, that’s a difficult question’, ‘well…it’s not really that number’, ‘I’m not really sure what the real number is’……*sigh*, this gets boring real fast.
The first paragraph said that Green Breeze Energy “ensure that the project is located outside of a 3km radius from other operational or proposed wind facilities to avoid cumulative noise effects.” I asked, “how the heck can you ensure that? There are companies trying to sign up people next door to these proposed turbines already.”. His reply was that they really couldn’t….but as far as he knew there weren’t any projects at the same stage as they were right now. Talk about twisting the words. They have zero control of what other companies do, but try to make it sound like the are ‘taking care of the residents’.
The second paragraph stated that the company did not have to do a Noise Impact Assessment because “the project will comply with all setbacks from non-participating receptors (ie.650m)”. This was news to me…and what’s with the 650m? Well the answer was that the number of turbines put the project in a different class. Truthfully, I’m used to dealing with projects that are 60MW and up in our area, and I don’t really know anything about ‘small’ 10MW projects. “Even with 2.5MW turbines?” we asked. “OK, OK…do you want me to look it up in the regs?”. “Yes, Yes, please do.” Then he shows us that silly little chart that the MOE is supposed to use with the sound power data, the # of turbines and the proposed setback…and then at the bottom it basically just says ‘or just do a noise study and ignore these guidelines’. Anyway, we asked what the sound power data was for this turbine. He wasn’t quite sure but thought it was in the 102dBA range (lowest number he could see)….”Really?” we asked. Then the nervous little sign-in girl who was listening in suggested we talk to the Samsung boys. The Samsungers said the sound power was really 105.7dBA….Shouldn’t the Stantec chump know this? Especially since he is designing this project?! Us rural folk don’t really like to make people look this stupid, its embarrassing.
The third paragraph I just shook my head and walked away from. They may as well garbage that useless poster. It generally said that according to the WHO, turbines can’t create enough noise to make people sick, with Arlene King’s study ‘referenced’ in brackets. All I could think was if these guys can’t get the simple numbers right, I don’t think I’ll have a hope in hell arguing with them about health issues.
A woman told me that when she was talking to the Stantec rep, she mentioned how she was worried about the noise to him. He told her that she was just stressing herself out about it and that’s what would make her sick, and “look- you’re getting stressed out about it right now!”. I’m not sure I would have been able to contain myself if somebody said that to me.
There was a crowd around ‘the map’, as there always is with the usual frustration about the lack of notification and lack of control people had. The Green Breeze rep (who looked and had the mannerisms of Garrison Keillor…really weird), was trying to ‘comfort residents’. I noticed a turbine that was quite close to a side road on the map, maybe 110m away. The rep said it was ‘within the standards’. What’s the blade length? 50m. So, + 10m… it must be at least 60m away? “Oh no,” said the Green Breeze rep, “its HUB height, PLUS blade length, so it’s even further than that”. Uh, no it’s not unfortunately, the Regs are worse. So he glances over at the Stantec rep who shrugs and says “yeah, blade length plus 10m”. The BASICS, that’s all I expect them to know…we’re not even trying to stump them! Argh. How can people have any faith in these guys, ever? Anyway, the Stantec rep’s response was that in Europe you can drive down a road and almost touch the towers when you stick your hand out the window. Very Impressive, don’t do it here, buster.
Unlike most other wind meetings, these reps were kind of huddled in the corner of the room. If you wanted to ask a question you had to go and get them yourself. I think that the company hoped nobody would show up, and I kinda thought nobody would either because it is such a small area affected. But there were people there, and most were informed about the issues. I learnt something: the test tower for this project fell down several days after it was installed. The Company rep said, “the contractor didn’t put a foundation in.” The resident replied, “well who’s to say the same thing won’t happen with these turbines?”. Good question, especially if nobody is watching the contractor…
A last rather funny remark came from the Samsung reps when my dad was quizzing them on sound power data. One quietly asked, “are you with the MOE?”. Ha! Do you think they thought they were under investigation? Don’t they know the MOE is their best friend? We should have said ‘yes’.
For this project, the only hope in stopping it is the Ian Hanna Lawsuit, so we handed out the donation pamphlets to anyone upset. Otherwise they plan to build it next year, and they have their OPA agreement in hand.