Zephyr project (Brooke-Alvinston) approved- 15 days to appeal
So the rubber stamp is back at it for the Ministry of Environment. This project consists of four 2.5MW wind turbines just south of Watford, Ontario. Actually, the project was sold while it was being approved, to Scheider Power….not sure if the MOE figured that out. This project had the worst public consultation I have seen of all the projects I’ve been involved in. Noise documents were late (MONTHS late) and no project documents were available at the final public meeting. On top of it we can be comforted that there isn’t a certified engineer signing off on the project document. Even though this goes against MOE rules, they stamp stamp away…that’s all they know to do!
Proponent: Zephyr Farms Limited
2700 Matheson boulevard East
Canada L4W 4V9
Instrument Type: Approval for a renewable energy project – EPA s.47.3(1)
Ministry Reference Number: 4238-8EHPFA
Ministry: Ministry of the Environment
Date Proposal loaded to the Registry: June 06, 2011
Date Decision loaded to the Registry: November 01, 2011
The Leave to Appeal Provisions indicated in the section titled “Leave to Appeal Provisions” at the end of this posting do not apply to Renewable Energy Approvals issued under 47.5 of the EPA. Please refer to NOTE: Regarding Third Party Hearing Provisions in the section titled “Decision on Instrument” instead.
Decision on Instrument:
A Renewable Energy Approval has been issued to Zephyr Farms Limited, to engage in a renewable energy project in respect of a Class 4 wind facility consisting of the construction, installation, operation, use and retiring of the following: four (4) wind turbine generators, each rated at 2.5 megawatt (MW) output capacity, with a total name plate capacity of 10 MW. The facility will be connected to Hydro One’s distribution network.
This Class 4 wind facility, known as the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm, is located at Ebenezer Road and Churchill Line on Con 14 S pt Lot 13 S ½ Lot 13, Con 14 S pt Lot 14, and Con 14 N pt Lot 15 pt W ¾ of N ¾ of Lot 15 in the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston, County of Lambton, Ontario. The noise sources to be approved at the project location consist of wind turbine generators. There is no substation associated with this project. Emissions discharged to the atmosphere include noise.
The Renewable Energy Approval requires the proponent to construct, install, operate, use and retire the facility in accordance with specific terms and conditions. The terms and conditions, as summarised below, require the proponent to:
- construct and install the facility in accordance with the documentation considered for the issuance of this approval,
- construct and install the facility within 2 years of the date of the approval,
- properly decommission the facility upon retirement of the facility,
- comply with the ministry’s noise emission limits for wind facilities at all times,
- carry out an Acoustic Audit to obtain the Sound Power Levels of wind turbine generator ID Nos. T 2 and T 3 and submit to the ministry,
- construct, install, use, operate, maintain and retire the equipment in accordance with the regulatory setback prohibitions,
- manage stormwater and control sediment and erosion during and post construction,
- implement its Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan for Wildlife,
- prepare a Traffic Management Plan,
- properly address any archaeological resources discovered,
- maintain and operate the equipment in accordance with good engineering practices and as recommended by the equipment suppliers,
- maintain records of the operation and maintenance of the equipment, and inspections and complaints related to the facility,
- notify the ministry of complaints received alleging adverse effect caused by the construction, installation, operation, use or retirement of the facility, and
- notify the ministry prior to a change of ownership.
This renewable energy project has been approved in accordance with the requirements of Part V.0.1 of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) and Ontario Regulation 359/09.
NOTE: Regarding Third Party Hearing Provisions
Third Party Hearing Provisions are listed immediately below. The Leave to Appeal Provisions indicated in the section titled “Leave to Appeal Provisions” at the end of the posting do not apply to Renewable Energy Approvals issued under 47.5 of the EPA.
Any resident of Ontario may require a hearing by the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) within 15 days after the date this Decision was loaded to the Environmental Registry (see top right of decision notice) by written notice served upon the following:
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario:
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
1075 Bay Street
Phone: (800) 701-6454
Director, Manager (A) , Renewable Energy Team
Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch
2 St. Clair Avenue West
Zephyr Farms Limited
2700 Matheson Boulevard East
Suite 300, West Tower
Canada L4W 4V9
Environmental Review Tribunal
655 Bay Street, Floor 15
Phone: (416) 314-4600
Fax: (416) 314-4506
An applicant for a hearing shall state in the notice requiring the hearing, (a) a description of how engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the renewable energy approval will cause, (i) serious harm to human health, or (ii) serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment; (b) the portion of the renewable energy approval in respect of which the hearing is required; and (c) the relief sought.
Further information is provided on the ERT’s website at: http://www.ert.gov.on.ca/english/guides/index.htm
If you have any questions about the hearing process please consult a lawyer or contact the ERT.
Comment(s) Received on the Proposal: 16
Public Consultation on the proposal for this decision was provided for 60 Days, from June 06, 2011 to August 05, 2011.
As a result of public consultation on the proposal, the Ministry received a total of 16 comments: 2 comments were received in writing and 14 were received online.
Additionally, a copy of all comments are available for public viewing by contacting the Contact person listed in this notice.
A selection of these comments are available:
Effect(s) of Consultation on this Decision:
All comments received were reviewed by the ministry and considered during the review of the application. These comments and the minsitry’s response have been summarized below.
Concerns about adverse effects from living in proximity to industrial wind turbines: We are aware of the health concerns some people have expressed about the potential impact of wind turbines. The Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health’s recent report concluded that the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbines and adverse health. The government has also committed to establish the Ontario Research Chair in Renewable Energy Technologies and Health (ORC-RETH) to address the technological, health and safety aspects of renewable energy. To meet this commitment, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) awarded the research chair position in February 2010 to Dr. Sivoththaman, a faculty member at the University of Waterloo, following an independent and competitive application process. The 5-year ORC program brings on board researchers with expertise from the faculties of Engineering and Applied Health Sciences and will include clinical and epidemiological studies of health effects of turbine noise, as outlined in greater detail on the ORC website: http://www.orc-reth.uwaterloo.ca/.
Zephyr Farms Limited is required to meet the requirements of Ontario Regulation 359/09 (Renewable Energy Approval) at all times, in order to ensure that negative effects are adequately mitigated.
Concerns about setback distances from residences, property lines and roads: The Minsitry of the Environment’s setback distances are based on the ministry’s most conservative sound level limit of 40 dBA at the nearest noise receptor. This stringent 40 dBA sound level limit has been used in Ontario for the approval of industrial facilities built in rural areas for the past 30 years. Furthermore, this sound level limit is consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendation that the outdoor annual average night sound level should not exceed 40 dBA.
To ensure safety of neighbouring properties, all Class 3, 4 and 5 wind facilities must be located a minimum setback distance from neighbouring property boundaries. This distance is equivalent to the turbine hub height. The proponent may consider applying to reduce the property line setback to the length of the turbine blade plus 10 metres. In order to do so, the Renewable Energy Approval application must include a Property Line Setback Assessment Report.
A Property Line Setback Assessment was completed for the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm as one of the four wind turbines (wind turbine T3) is located closer to a property line than the height of the turbine (80 metres). However, the wind turbine is located greater than blade length plus 10 metres to the property line (turbine T3 is located 61.9 metres from the closest property line).
Conditions are included in the Renewable Energy Approval to undertake routine operating and maintenance procedures in accordance with good engineering practices and to provide to the ministry details of any complaints including a description of the measures taken to address the cause of the incident and to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.
Concerns about the consultation undertaken for this project: While mandatory consultation requirements are specified in Renewable Energy Approval Regulation (O. Reg. 359/09), it is not prescriptive in regards to the techniques or methods used. The Ministry of the Environment has reviewed the proponent’s Consultation Report and deemed that it satisfies the corresponding legislative requirements outlined in O. Reg. 359/09.
Concerns with respect to procedural errors for this project: The Ministry of the Environment is aware that a Noise Impact Assessment was prepared for the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm for the final public meeting held February 17, 2011; however it was not one of the supporting documents released 60 days in advance of the meeting. The Ministry of the Environment posted the Instrument Proposal Notice for the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm on the Environmental Registry for an extended 60-day comment period for the public to review and provide comment and input directly to the ministry on this project.
While concerns were raised about procedural errors with respect to the Shadow Flicker report, a Shadow Flicker report is not a required document under O. Reg. 359/09; therefore, there are no timing requirements associated with this document.
While mandatory consultation requirements are specified in O. Reg. 359/09, it is not prescriptive in regards to the techniques or methods used.
Concerns with respect to the Noise Impact Assessment undertaken for this project: A Noise Impact Assessment was conducted for this project. The Noise Impact Assessment concludes that the noise produced by the Samsung 2.5 MW model 25XC wind turbines was found to be within the acceptable limits at all Points of Reception (POR) within 1,500 metres of a turbine from the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm for wind speeds of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 m/s (metres/second).
The maximum sound power level of the turbine was used for all wind speeds, i.e. 107.9 dBA.
There is no substation on site as the Project will be connected to the 27.6-kV distribution system.
The Assessment demonstrates, and it is concurred by the ministry that compliance with the applicable ministry sound level limits will be achieved at all identified PORs.
Concerns with respect to avian impacts: Appropriate selection of a project location is a key factor to preventing potential negative effects on birds. A compilation of background information on known wildlife use of the Study Area was undertaken for this project.
Zephyr Farms Limited has prepared a Post-Construction Monitoring Program for the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm. The purpose of the wildlife post-construction monitoring program is to identify performance objectives, assess the effectiveness of the proposed mitigation measures and to identify contingency measures that will be implemented if performance objectives cannot be met. Furthermore, any unanticipated potentially significant adverse environmental effects discovered during the post-construction monitoring program will be mitigated.
A condition is imposed in the Renewable Energy Approval to require Zephyr Farms Limited to implement its Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan for Wildlife as submitted in their Renewable Energy Approval application.
Concerns with respect to ice fall on livestock: As discussed in the applicant’s Design and Operations Report, the potential ground area affected by falling ice from wind turbines depends to a large extent on the blade position and the prevailing wind speed and direction.
Claims of property damage to properties outside of the Project Location will be directed through Zephyr Farm Limited’s insurance policy.
Concerns that the electrical specification report for the wind turbines should be signed off by an Ontario professional engineer: There is no requirement in the Renewable Energy Approval for wind turbine specifications to be signed by a Professional Engineer registered in Ontario.
A condition is imposed in the Renewable Energy Approval to require Zephyr Farms Limited to provide the ministry, prior to construction and installation, with a written manual outlining operating and maintenance procedures and maintenance program for the equipment as recommended by the suppliers of the equipment. The Renewable Energy Approval will also require Zephyr Farms Limited to operate and maintain the facility in accordance with this manual.
Concerns with respect to cumulative impacts of other planned developments in the area: Proponents are required to consider the noise impacts of existing and proposed adjacent (or neighbouring) wind farms as part of their noise assessment to ensure the Ministry of the Environment’s sound level limits are met in all cases. More specifically, as noted in section 6.4.9 of the Ministry of the Environment’s Noise Guidelines for Wind Turbines, 2008, the combined contributions from wind turbines within 5 kilometres must be included in the impact assessment at a Point of Reception. If a wind facility is proposed to be located in an area where more than one wind facility is under development, proponents are required to consult with neighbouring proponents to ensure projects will meet the requirements for cumulative noise effects from multiple wind turbines. Zephyr Farms Limited was not aware of any other wind facilities in the area in the planning of the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm. Any future planned wind facilities within 5 kilometres of the Brooke-Alvinston Wind Farm will have to consider cumulative impacts of all of the wind turbines from the existing and planned wind facility.
Concerns regarding the effectiveness of wind power: The Province of Ontario has identified wind as one component of a diversified energy mix for the province as identified in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. The Ontario Power Authority, the agency responsible for supply procurement, and the Independent Electricity System Operator, the agency responsible for the reliability of Ontario electricity system, have both researched, modeled and proposed a target for wind (10% by 2030) that ensures an efficient and reliable system supply to meet Ontario electricity demands while satisfying the Government’s and the Ontario public’s goals for new supply.
Concerns regarding economic impacts of wind facilities: Ontario’s Green Energy Act (GEA) will boost investment in renewable energy projects and increase conservation, creating green jobs and economic growth to Ontario. This legislation is part of Ontario’s plan to become a leading green economy in North America.
The GEA will:
- Spark growth in clean and renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biogas in Ontario.
- Create the potential for savings and better managed household energy expenditures through a series of conservation measures.
- Create 50,000 jobs for Ontarians in its first three years.
- Building a stronger, greener economy with lasting, well-paying jobs for Ontarians is a key goal of the GEA. This would be achieved by:
- Providing certainty and clarity in the approvals process for renewable energy projects.
- Enabling domestic content requirements for renewable energy projects, creating job opportunities here at home.
- Helping local communities and First Nation and Métis communities to build, own and operate their own renewable energy projects.
- Expanding our electricity grid to make it “smart.”
- Shifting to the use of innovative alternative fuel sources will help build stronger, healthier and cleaner communities, while creating new economic opportunities and jobs in rural areas.
Concerns regarding impacts to property values: The Ministry of the Environment is not aware of any evidence that wind turbines have negative effects on property values. The ministry will continue to monitor research and literature on this issue and will modify our practices accordingly.
Note – This is the end of the decision notice. Please disregard the “Leave to Appeal Provisions” section below.