Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wind Power comes to Wareham

" The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind..."

Trying to get hard information about the development of large scale wind turbines is extremely difficult. The amount of 'spin' is immense - from both sides of the question.

One primary problem on the 'PRO' side - the outfits behind the local project - Boreas Wind Partners or Chinodin Wind Power, do not support their own web sites.

One primary problem on the 'CON' side - there is far too much reliance on 'testimonials', with little science to back up the statements.

We have had only the most general and limited of hard information delivered to our home concerning the project from the companies involved. There have been notices about a few pubic information sessions. We had delivered a sketch map with the 'project boundaries marked on it - but never any specific site locations for the individual towers.
I consider this a major failing on the part of the developers, especially since there is significant local objection (judged by 'Stop the Wind Farm' signs posted by individuals.)

But what I have found (easily) on the internet:

10 Myths about Wind Power
(PRO - industry promotional site)
Addresses major concerns, backed up with links to relevant studies.

Energy Farming Ontario
(PRO - industry promotional site)
General information site, sort on hard data.

Grey County Wind Action Group
(CON - local activist group)
Site effectively frozen, now that the local project has been approved and under construction. Little data available here.

Wind Concern Ontario
(CON - Ontario activist collective)
Set up as series of blog and media reprints. There are some (few!) reports with actual measurements included.

The only data filled report I have been able to find on-line that specifically relates to our local project area is this one:

Stage 1 Archaeological Assessment Hatherton/Maxwell Wind Farms ...
Interesting for its description of my local area - this describes the proposed archaeological study NOT its results. It also seems to be incomplete.
(It also states six towers in our specific local patch. Currently I count at least eight towers under construction.)

This map is cobbled together from the project boundary map from the Archaeological Assessment, laid on to an area map via Google. The placement of the towers and roads is rough, based on personal observation. You can see that the two closest towers are roughly 1 km to the SE and 1.5 km to the NE from us in Wareham. I suspect I will only be able to see one of these from our upstairs kitchen window, thats the SE tower.

Killing some Pseudo-Science


Personal - I have stood underneath one of the operating wind turbines down near Shelburne. From roadside on highway 10 (500 m), you certainly can not hear anything over the traffic noise of passing cars. At a unit well removed from roadside, I could not hear any increase in sound over the noise of the wind blowing past my own ears at the time.

The stated concern appears to be low frequency noise (CON).
A study conducted by William Palmer (an engineer) is available (CON):
The measurements were made inside the homes of people claiming adverse effects after the construction of wind turbines (at roughly 450 - 650 metres). These instruments record an increase of low frequency noise of roughly 15 - 20 dB.
Right off the start, there is no comparison given between noise levels experienced by other aspects of modern life, like living in a city, near a major highway, near an airport.

I personally have to conclude from this alone that claims made by protesters are vastly overstated. The noise from the truck traffic since our recent Mennonite influx does certainly effect me personally considerably more than the nearest wind turbine will.
I am willing to accept that effects from low frequency sound is a remote possibility.


I have been surprised how FEW lights are used on the combined wind farm projects. There is NOT one light per tower - as I would have thought would be required by various regulations. The reality is more like one flashing red for each grouping of about five. Actual location must effect this. Also I must fairly say at this point in construction I have no idea just which towers in the neighbourhood group will have lights.

The frequency of these lights is extremely slow. The link between epileptic siezures and some flashing lights is proven - but requires specific frequencies. If anything the rate of flashing on the existing towers is even slower than that on the cell phone towers that also dot this region. Also required for this effect is both close proximity and brightness. Neither of these things is provided (or even possible) by the small flashing light on an individual tower.
The second objection stated is that sun light viewed through the blades will provide flickering light which will be detrimental. In theory, if you were standing at just the right place, at just the right time of day, with just the right brightness of the sun, you might see a moving shadow from the blades.

Certainly the placement of the individual towers in this local grouping is such that I do not think any home is in the correct alignment to allow such an effect through anyone's window.
Again personally, such alignment is physically impossible here at Wareham.


During the construction phase, there certainly been an massive increase in road traffic, especially of heavy machinery. The areas containing the tower bases and the access roads to them have been disrupted. Road intersections are being (temporarily I was told) widened to allow the passage of tower components. The piece of ground around the base of an individual tower being used for construction / assembly appears to be about 2 - 3 acres each.
However, looking at a completed tower at the parts of the complex south of us, the amount of ground lost by an individual tower is about the same footprint as a two car garage. The individual access roads are typically sited along one edge of an existing field fence line (where ever possible). Once the construction is completed, the fields surrounding an individual tower are placed back into agricultural use.

I agree that if a tower was de-commissioned, there would remain a massive block of re-enforced concrete remaining which consisted the massive base plate. Again the surface area is about as large as a two car garage.
Any argument based on 'destruction of farm land' is defies the facts.

(Not In My Backyard)

Obviously, this opinion is in the eye of the beholder.

Typically this argument is raised by 'Weekenders' or displaced Suburbanites. I have to tell you that most commonly (around here anyway) those 'Stop the Wind Farm' signs appear on homes that obviously have much higher economic resources than most permanent residents. Often houses that show the 'closed weekdays and winters' look to them. I recently heard that around Goderich, a similar project was blocked by individuals placing small structures all over their vacation properties - to effectively eliminate the current 'nothing within 500 m' siting requirement. (This may be why the placement of individual towers was never identified here.)
It should be noted that the recent influx of Mennonite families onto local farms are not raising objections to the wind turbines - as far as I can tell. (Significant, when you know the first mark of a new Mennonite owner is that they remove all connections to Ontario Hydro from the property. They all run self contained diesel generator systems for working power.)

Personally I like the look of the towers. It reminds me that that future we were promised in the 60's and 70's may actually arrive some day - and I might see it.

If you want to have electricity, it has to come from some place.
I find it actually offensive that people would think that their power should come from someplace else - with others forced to cope with the hazards of coal or other large industrial sized power plants.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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