DOVER TOWNSHIP — With the turbines up and running, a local man is concerned about noise levels coming from a nearby wind farm.
Quebec-based Boralex has a five-turbine operation close to the Mallard Line residence of Paul Kirktown. “We don’t hear them all the time,” he said. “(But) it’s woke us up at night and kept us awake.”
The wind farm, formerly a Gengrowth project, came online this winter. Kirktown said when the wind is blowing in a certain direction, it becomes much louder, especially at night. “It’s like a locomotive chugging in the distance,” he said.
Creemore-based Peter Lomath, a retired acoustician, was in the area Thursday to test the levels, with The Chatham Daily News in attendance. However, the wind wasn’t blowing hard enough to cause a problem at that time, he said.
Lomath did say other jurisdictions of the province have had overly high decibel levels. “Nobody is paying me to do this,” he said. “People give me gas money.”
Other nearby areas he tested included Blenheim and Harrow.
Lomath said there needs to be remedies in place if a turbine exceeds specifications. He said a car’s emissions aren’t allowed to be too high. “If it fails, they take it off the road,” he said. “That’s what should apply to wind turbines.”
Lomath said low-frequency noise is also an issue, but there are no standards governing it. He said it’s important to gather objective data instead of simply relying on health symptoms.
“It may keep you awake, but it won’t keep someone else awake,” Lomath said.
Kirktown said he simply wants to be heard on the matter and didn’t know where to turn.
Colette McLean was skeptical that wind energy creates enough power to make the problems worth it. However, she said noise is only one aspect of the concerns and believes rural communities are deemed expendable.
“Are we really adding to the energy?” she said. McLean said residents often feel too intimidated to make a complaint.
Dave Ross, Kirktown’s neighbour, said he isn’t as worried about the noise as he is about the potential effect on his property value. “There is a good chance it could hinder it,” he said.
Sophie Paquet, Boralex communication adviser, said the company received Kirktown’s complaint at the end of March and is looking into the matter. She said a specialized firm will perform the study to determine the impact.
“During the next week, we’re going to install next to the residence of Mr. Kirktown equipment to measure the noise,” she said in a voicemail message. “That measurement campaign will be conducted during a period of one month.”
Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Maria Van Bommel said the Ministry of the Environment will get involved if Kirktown isn’t satisfied. “We’ll move forward from there,” she said. “But we really would expect that the company should be the one to take care of the problem.”
Van Bommel said the province has appointed a research chair [an electrical engineer] to look into health issues.
“I’m certainly anxious to hear what the results are coming from that study,” she said. “There are those people who do experience some problems, but I do know others who live near (turbines) and don’t.”