By Chris Daponte, The Wellington Advertiser
Councillor Jim Curry says now is the time to measure local electrical frequencies to establish baseline and help determine the possible impact of wind energy projects proposed in the area.
“It is imperative that the quality of electricity before wind turbines be guaranteed after wind turbines go into service [in] Mapleton or neighbouring municipalities,” Curry said in a recent report to council.
He feels that work should be completed by Hydro One officials, who currently do not monitor “the high frequencies associated with [the] dirty electricity produced by wind turbines.”
Curry explained Hydro One will test for stray voltage but determines that anything less than 1 volt “at relatively low frequencies, such as 60Hz, is considered to be safe to human and animal health.”
But tests performed nearby wind energy projects have shown voltage in the 10mV range with frequencies near 10,000Hz and also identify multiple harmonics, he said.
Overexposure to such high frequencies can cause health problems such as ringing in the ears, headaches, sleeplessness, elevated blood pressure and more, Curry said. And in dairy cattle, it can cause decreased milk production, lower butter fat content, decreased food consumption, swelling of the knees, mastitis and noticeable agitation, he added.
Those affects can be mitigated through the use of buried, insulated wires, Curry said, but most companies are using overhead, bare wires for wind energy projects because it is cheaper.
Curry proposed sending his comments to Hydro One and requesting the energy provider change the way it assesses stray voltage and investigates complaints.
Councillor Bruce Whale suggested the information should instead be sent to local residents investigating health concerns and also to the provincial government, perhaps as an addendum to the township’s previous request for a moratorium on wind energy projects until an independent health study is completed.
“I think this would be lost at Hydro One,” Whale said.
Curry said the report should be forwarded to the province as well as other municipalities and to Wellington County. He believes it has to be mandated that Hydro One change its practices.
Curry has also contacted University of Waterloo professor Sivo Siboththaman – the electrical and computer engineer who received a five year, $1.5-million grant to study the safety of the renewable energy technologies and the effects on the health of people and the environment – but has yet to hear back about whether frequencies and harmonics are included in his study.
Mayor John Green said he would feel much better sending Curry’s report to the province than to Hydro One. Curry replied that as long as local residents are protected, he is fine with that.
Green thinks the township is on “sticky ground” when it comes to the arguments presented by Curry.
The mayor explained that for every source the township comes up with saying wind turbines can cause health problems, the province and wind energy proponents will produce two that say no such link exists.
Whale suggested the township just ask the province to include harmonics and high frequencies in the approval process for wind farms.
Clerk Patty Sinnamon said the municipality’s recent submission to the province – to offer comments on its renewable energy guidelines – specifically mentioned stray voltage and frequencies.
Green said the township could review its submission to the province and if there’s anything in Curry’s report that was not covered, the township could add it to the submission.