This page contains answers to questions Northland Power is often asked about wind.
As we learn more about issues that matter most to you, we will update this page.
- Why are you building this project?
- Why is the project being built in this location?
- Does the project require environmental approval?
- How long will construction take?
- Will the project increase traffic in the area?
- Will the project produce emissions?
- Will the project create noise or vibrations?
- Will the project require new high-voltage power lines?
- Will you be asking the residents for input?
- When is the next meeting about the project?
- How can I ask questions or make comments?
- What impacts will the project have on the natural environment? How will these effects be mitigated?
- Will the project impact water quality?
- Will the project impact groundwater quality or quantity? Will my well be impacted?
- Will the project impact my property value?
- How loud will the project be?
- Will I be able to see the project?
- Are there any health impacts associated with wind projects?
- What happens when the project is no longer required?
- Why was detailed information on the project not available at the first public meeting?
- Will hunting be restricted around the turbines?
1. Why are you building this project?
A: The Independent Electricity System Operator, formerly known as the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), is responsible for ensuring the long-term electricity supply for Ontario. The province also has a strategy to focus on environmentally friendly energy sources. Wind power projects are seen as a way to achieve both goals. The IESO invited Northland and other energy companies to propose wind projects that fit its requirements. This project was proposed to the IESO by Northland as a project that qualified under the feed-in tariff program.
2. Why is the project being built in this location?
A: The site addresses the OPA’s strict land use concerns and is located close to main power distribution system lines. From Northland’s perspective, it has abundant wind resource and is accessible as a construction site.
3. Does the project require environmental approval?
A: Yes. Northland has commenced the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process as required under Ontario Regulation 359/09 and the Environmental Protection Act. Other permits will be obtained as required by law. Please see the project description report for more information.
5. Will the project increase traffic in the area?
A: During construction, there will be some heavy equipment, truck and car traffic to and from the site. Please see the project description report for preliminary information on the construction process. More information will be available once the construction report is complete and available to the public. Once the facility is operating, there will be minimal traffic, as the site will have only a few full-time staff.
6. Will the project produce emissions?
A: Operating wind power facilities do not produce emissions. Emissions resulting from the manufacture of wind turbines are recovered in the first 5-8 months of operation of the units.
7. Will the project create noise or vibrations?
A:Wind turbines produce noise when operating. The noise varies with wind speed. Northland is required to locate turbines at a minimum of 550 metres from receptors (homes) to ensure that the contribution of the turbines to the noise at the receptor is less than 40 dBa. This level of noise is comparable to the background sound from the interior of a home. During construction, vehicles and equipment will produce some daytime noise.
8. Will the project require new high-voltage power lines?
A: The project will require a new 115 kV line to connect to the Hydro One distribution system. Please see the Project Description Report and Project Map for detailed information.
9. Will you be asking the residents for input?
A: Yes. We have been engaged in open, honest and accommodating dialogue with interested members of the local community. Throughout the process, as part of the Renenwable Energy Assessment (REA), we have been asking the community how best to address concerns or worries.
10. When is the next meeting about the project?
A: All notices and events are posted on this site. For more information, please see the notices posted in the Information Centre. Each project under the REA process under the GEA (Green Energy Act) requires two Public Information Centres (PICs). Because of the long review period for this project and the time required to accommodate changes from a variety of inputs, we have conducted four formal meetings and numerous municipal and group meetings.
11. How can I ask questions or make comments?
A: You can ask questions or provide comments through our questions/comments page or at Northland Power’s local site office, open in downtown Little Current since 2009. The project manager has published weekly progress reports on the project in the local media, along with educational information on windpower and the development process. Each weekly article has invited the public to contribute comment or visit the local office to sit down and chat with staff. The public has also been invited to suggest topics for discussion in the future articles.
12. What impacts will the project have on the natural environment? How will these effects be mitigated?
A: In order to obtain a Renewable Energy Approval (REA), detailed environmental studies of natural features (wildlife habitat, woodlands, wetlands, valley lands) and water bodies on and surrounding the project site are required. Through these studies, the existing environmental characteristics of a given project location are identified.
Once the existing environment is characterized, the effects of the project can be determined and mitigation measures identified to limit any negative effects. This work has been completed and the results are included in the Natural Heritage Assessment reports, the Water Body reports, and the Construction Plan Report that have been available on numerous occasions throughout the process. As part of the prescribed REA process, these reports have been submitted to the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) for review. Once accepted by the MNR, the reports are passed on to the MOE (Ministry of Environment) and are then posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) for review by the public. As of September 2011, he MNR review process has been completed and the reports are being forwarded to the MOE.
13. Will the project impact water quality?
A: Wind turbines will not be located within 120 metres of the high water mark of any watercourse. Furthermore, mitigation measures (such as sediment and erosion control) are identified in the Water Body reports and Construction Plan Report to ensure that the installation of the turbines does not impact water quality.
The Water Body and Construction Plan report will be available for public review when the REA final document is posted.
14. Will the project impact groundwater quality or quantity? Will my well be impacted?
A: No groundwater wells will be installed on the project site. Any water required for construction and operations will be brought in from offsite sources.
16. How loud will the project be?
A: As part of the REA process, a noise study is completed in order to determine the noise levels at nearby sensitive receptors. The project must be designed and constructed to ensure that noise levels at the sensitive receptors meet the Ontario Ministry of the Environment requirement of 40 dbA. A 40 dbA sound level is the equivalent of a whisper., while a normal conversation at a 3-ft distance produces a 60 to 70 dbA sound level. This level of noise would not impact one’s ability to hear other desired sounds such as the wind rustling through the leaves on a tree, singing birds, crickets, or someone walking up your driveway. Anecdotal evidence from neighbours of a wind power facility within Ontario suggests that noise from the project site is not a concern.
The Noise Study Report will be available for public review when the REA is posted.
17. Will I be able to see the project?
A: The project will be visible from many vantage points around the community. Depending on location, a few turbines may be visible from adjacent areas. Through the public meetings, issues around the aesthetics have come up and the current layout reflects changes made to accommodate these concerns. Several photo simulations have been made to provide an accurate idea of how the project will look. These visual simulations will be included in the final posting of the REA and will be available at the site office in Little Current.
18. Are there any health impacts associated with wind projects?
A: There are no known health impacts associated with wind projects. In fact, the use of wind energy will contribute to the province’s ability to retire coal fired power plants, which have uncontested health impacts. The McLean’s Mountain project will therefore help to improve air quality throughout the province.
19. What happens when the project is no longer required?
A: Whoever owns the project at that time will decommission the project once it is no longer required, and will restore the lands consistent with the present uses. A Decommissioning Plan is a required part of the REA, which in turn is required to generate power. Whoever owns the project going forward will be bound by this plan. Again this is to be part of the REA that will be posted by the MOE to the EBR for public comment and has previously been available with the draft REA review.
20. Why was detailed information on the project not available at the first public meeting?
A: The REA Regulation (Ontario Regulation 359/09) requires a public meeting be held shortly after the project is initiated. In the case of McLean’s Mountain, many meetings and turbine layouts were presented prior to the restart notice. Further small changes were made following input from adjacent landowners, as well as from our new First Nations partners. The final set of small changes was made to accommodate an MNR request around significant wetland habitats.
21. Will hunting be restricted around the turbines?
A: Although comments have run rampant regarding hunting, the rights of hunters have never been hindered around wind turbines. Northland Power cannot and will not be allowed to restrict hunting on adjacent lands.