(Farms.com – August 29) Agriculture provides many of the opportunities available to generate alternative sources of energy. Harnessing energy through wind turbines is one of the options for producing green energy that will contribute to a secure, reliable source for future generations. The ongoing development of off-shore wind turbines in Ontario has been a contentious issue, raising questions about the technology’s merits and concerns.
In the interests of exploring this potential energy and income source for Ontario farmers, the OFA is asking the provincial government for clarity on wind-turbine related health, noise level and stray voltages concerns.
However, the opportunity for wind turbine development is on hold since the Ontario government imposed a moratorium on new off-shore wind farms until more scientific research is done on the impact of turbines.
After receiving anecdotal reports of adverse health impacts attributed to wind turbines, primarily concerning noise levels and stray voltage, the OFA struck a task team of directors, staff and researchers to draft recommendations to consider with future wind turbine development. These OFA recommendations follow recognized international standards that support acceptable noise levels and setback distances for turbines.
The following six recommendations form the basis for OFA’s lobbying efforts with the provincial government for wind turbine development.
• To reduce stray voltage issues, larger gauge service lines and higher capacity transformers are recommended to eliminate line loss and electromagnetic fields in the wind turbine development structure.
• Rural residents’ health and nuisance complaints are to be quickly and fairly addressed in any and all cases where wind turbine developments meet or exceed the minimum distance setbacks of 550 metres.
• Rural residents’ health and nuisance complaints are to be quickly and fairly addressed in any and all cases where wind turbine developments do not meet the minimum setback requirements of 550 metres.
• Regulations governing participating receptors should be amended to require a minimum setback of 550 metres for all wind turbine developments.
• Until the participating receptor regulation can be amended, the government must ensure all participating receptors are clear on their right to negotiate an acceptable setback distance for any wind turbine development on their own property or on any property within the boundaries of development.
• To address noise level issues, and ensure the recommended maximum of 40 decibels is not exceeded, the provincial government will develop and implement a protocol to measure noise from wind turbine developments, including continuous tone and low frequency noise. Measurement equipment and training must be made available to municipalities.
These six OFA recommendations on wind turbine development are on our agenda as we discuss agricultural issues with candidates in the lead up to the October 6 provincial election.
OFA is committed to exploring all the opportunities for alternative energy as they relate to and impact Ontario farmers and rural residents.