Canadian Consulting Engineer

Wind turbine setbacks in Ontario generate concern

The Ontario government is asking for public input and holding information sessions regarding its proposed setbacks ...

June 15, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Ontario government is asking for public input and holding information sessions regarding its proposed setbacks for wind power projects.

Responding to critics of wind turbines who say they create untenable conditions of noise and vibration, the province has said it will require at least 550 metres between a wind turbine and the nearest dwelling or other receptor. The idea is to ensure noise levels at the dwellings do not exceed 40 decibels, which is the level of a library or quiet office. Also, wetlands and wildlife habitat would be protected by a 120 metre setback unless a study can show that negative impacts can be mitigated.

The applicable setbacks would rise with the number of turbines and the sound level of particular turbines and there would also be ongoing requirements to monitor low-frequency noise and vibrations. A facility with eight turbines with a sound level of 105 decibels, for example, would need to be set back 1000 metres.

The proposed legislation would also set minimum setbacks for other renewable energy projects, including solar, hydro, biogass and biomass projects. 

The province says it wants to provide clear rules to create certainty for renewable power developers, although many in the industry say Ontario’s suggested setbacks are too strict and could deter wind power developers in the province.

Meanwhile, in Quebec last month, the province issued requests for proposals for two 250-MW of community and First Nations wind energy developments. Following objections by the Canadian Wind Energy Association over the 9.5 cents/kWh price offered in the tenders, the government raised the ceiling price to 12.5 cents/kWh. he Quebec Government anticipates these two RFPs will generate $1.3 billion in investments and create more than 4,000 jobs. The projects are due to be operating by 2012.

Public comments can be submitted on the Environmental Registry (search numbers 010-6516 and 010-6708). The Ministry of Environment website is said to be posting dates and locations for information sessions on is website.


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