by BRANDON WALKER
A Horizon Wind proposal to move the Big Thunder wind project 1.1 kilometres from the nearest home isn‘t good enough, says a representative of a group opposed to the development.
At twice the provincial standard of 550 metres, the company says its distance should alleviate some of the concerns expressed by Nor‘wester Mountain escarpment-area residents.
“It‘s equal to 11 football fields,” Nhung Nguyen, project co-ordinator, said Thursday in an interview with The Chronicle-Journal.
Nguyen said 98 per cent of homes will actually be two km away, “almost four times the provincial standard.”
Moving the turbines means a loss of wind, resulting in financial losses, she said, without providing details.
“Part of the reason we‘re doing this is Horizon is an environmental company,‘‘ Nguyen said. “We have to think about the financial, social and environmental bottom line.
“We see this as a compromise (after) taking all those factors in mind.”
One of the concerns expressed by residents was a steady flashing light, known as flicker, as the sun shines through the spinning turbines.
Nguyen said the province‘s minimum turbine setback of 550 metres is a way of preventing the flicker factor.
Horizon‘s original proposal put the turbines 600 metres away from homes, and the company estimated residents would experience six hours of flicker per year.
Nguyen said sun flicker shouldn‘t be an issue now.
“I don‘t think there will be any flicker experienced at those houses. It‘s usually within 300 metres of turbines when it‘s a concern.”
Margot Freitag of the Nor‘wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee she said Horizon is still planning to set up too close to houses, including hers.
Freitag said research has shown noise in mountainous terrain is “more pronounced,” so turbines should be 3.5 km away from homes, even more on mountains.
“Dr. Michael Nissenbaum did a controlled study very much like this situation where the turbines were on a mountainous area in Mars Hill, Maine. He had to go six km to get a control group. People up to five km away were suffering adverse health because of the noise,” Freitag said.
She said she believes there would still be sun flicker with the closest turbine 1.1 km away.
“Even if there isn‘t, there would be the strobing effect from sunlight reflecting off the blades.”
Freitag said the sound of turbines can be detrimental to health.
Horizon is to present its revised proposal to Thunder Bay city council on Tuesday.
Nguyen said the company will release its environmental assessment a few days later.
Anyone wishing to provide feedback to Horizon can go to www.bigthunderwindpower.ca.
The website says if the project is approved, it will prevent 15,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere in Ontario each year, and provide power for 9,000 homes in Thunder Bay.