All comments received were reviewed by the ministry and considered during the review of the application. These concerns and comments have been summarized below:
Concerns related to health and safety
The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has built safety requirements into Ontario Renewable Energy Approval Regulation (O. Reg. 359/09). For wind facilities, a proponent must meet section 53 of O. Reg. 359/09, which prohibits a proponent to place a turbine closer than the height of the turbine to a property boundary (unless a Property Line Setback Assessment is completed).
The facility has been sited in accordance will all applicable permitting regulations and requirements. Minimum setback requirements have been met, the noise report meets MOE guidelines and the applicant has committed to implementing appropriate construction and operational health and safety protocols, as well as a complaint resolution process.
Further, a condition has been imposed in the REA to operate and maintain the facility in accordance with good engineering practices and as recommended by the equipment suppliers.
Concerns about consultation process and incomplete documentation
While mandatory consultation requirements are specified in REA Regulation (O.Reg. 359/09), it is not prescriptive in regards to the techniques or methods used. The MOE has reviewed the proponent’s Consultation Report and deemed that it satisfies the legislative requirements outlined in O. Reg. 359/09.
The applicant conducted an extensive consultation program that commenced in 2008, including hosting several public meetings, releasing draft REA reports for public review, conducting a telephone town hall, and numerous meetings with local residents, government agencies and Aboriginal communities.
MOE has imposed a condition in the REA requiring the proponent to create a Community Liaison Committee for the Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park project. This Community Liaison Committee will be made up of individuals in the community and company representatives. The aim of the committee will be to act as a liaison, facilitating two way communications between the Company and members of the public with respect to the project. It will provide a forum for the Company to provide regular updates to the community.
Concerns related to noise
MOE staff have reviewed the noise assessment provided by the proponent. MOE’s noise engineers have confirmed that the project will meet MOE’s Noise Guidelines for Wind Farms. Further, the noise assessment and the facility meet the requirements of O. Reg. 359/09.
If the public has any noise concerns, incidents to report, or has any complaints they would like to raise relating to a wind facility operation, they should contact their local District or Area Office. MOE’s first level of field response is provided by environmental officers working out of MOE’s District or Area Offices.
Concerns about the length of time of the EBR comment period
Most proposals for instruments are posted on the Environmental Registry for 30 days. Additional public participation opportunities may be provided at the discretion of ministry decision-makers after taking into consideration such factors as the complexity of the proposal in question, level of public interest, and extent and nature of mitigation measures that may be required to prevent harm to the environment.
The ministry provided 60 days for the public to provide comments on this project.
Opportunity for public comment on this project has been provided since 2008.
In addition, the MOE posted the proposal for the project on the Environmental Registry, allowing for a total of 60 days for public comment directly to the ministry.
The applicant also held a telephone town hall in respect of this project on June 19, 2012.
MOE has imposed a condition requiring the proponent to create a Community Liaison Committee for the Bornish Wind Energy Centre. This Community Liaison Committee will be made up of individuals in the community and company representatives. The aim of the committee will be to act as a liaison, facilitating two way communications between the Company and members of the public with respect to the project. It will provide a forum for the Company to provide regular updates to the community.
Concern related to proximity of project to conservation areas
The Bornish Wind Energy Centre project area is not located within 120 metres of any provincial parks, conservation areas or areas of natural and scientific interest.
Significant woodlands have been considered as part of the Natural Heritage Assessment for this project. Mitigation measures for development in close proximity to these features have been established.
The project has been reviewed and determined to meet all applicable setback requirements.
Request for a moratorium on wind turbines
When developing the REA regulation, MOE drew upon extensive existing scientific research from around the world. Reviewing a large body of peer-reviewed reports and studies enabled MOE to develop a regulation that was based on the best available science to protect human health and the environment. MOE continues to review emerging scientific and engineering studies to ensure Ontario's REA regulation remains in line with the latest and best in science.
Impacts on natural environment and wildlife
The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has reviewed the Natural Heritage Assessment and provided a Confirmation Letter as per section 28 (2) of O. Reg 359/09. MNR provided a letter for this project confirming that the applicant used applicable evaluation criteria or procedures accepted by the MNR for the determination of the existence and boundaries of natural features; site investigation and records review; and evaluation of the significance or provincial significance of the natural features.
A bird and bat monitoring plan has been developed in accordance with MNR’s guidelines. This monitoring plan has been reviewed and approved by MNR.
A condition is being imposed in the REA to require the applicant to implement its bird and bat monitoring plan, as submitted in its REA application.
Concerns related to finality of transmission line
The transmission line route presented in the REA submission is the route that the applicant has included in its documentation. If the applicant were to use a different route, it would be required to consult with all appropriate stakeholders and go through an REA amendment process.
Cumulative effects of noise from wind turbines are assessed in the noise impact assessment and found to be compliant with the ministry standards.
Wind turbines do not generate adequate electricity and are not efficient
The Province of Ontario has identified wind as one component of a diversified energy mix for the province, as identified in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan. The Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the agency responsible for supply procurement, and the Independent Electricity System Operator, the agency responsible for the reliability of Ontario electricity system, have both researched, modeled and proposed a target for wind (10% by 2030) that ensures an efficient and reliable system supply to meet Ontario electricity demands while satisfying the Government’s and the Ontario public’s goals for new supply.
Impact on farmland
The role of the MOE with respect to energy proposals is to ensure that they comply with regulations that have been put in place to protect human health and the environment. The Ministry of Energy takes the lead on the development of renewable energy projects, and the OPA issues contracts under the province’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) program to purchase power. The FIT contracts awarded to project developers restrict the development of solar facilities on prime agricultural lands, e.g. Class 1 and Class 2 agricultural land, as determined by the OPA in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. However no such restriction exists for wind facilities, and the development of wind turbines on agricultural land is determined by the developer in collaboration with the landowners.
Wind turbines occupy only a small fraction of the land they are sited on, and farming or grazing may continue undisturbed. In general, a turbine in a typical wind facility including foundation and access roads will use 1 to 1.5% of a typical 40 hectare farm parcel.
Concerns related to drainage impacts
All municipal drain crossings will be permitted and constructed in accordance with the provincial Drainage Act.
As part of the REA approval, there is a decommissioning condition. This condition requires the proponent to comply with all commitments made in the REA documentation. Further, consultation with the local District Manager of MOE will be required in order to meet all the requirements at the time of decommissioning.
MOE has included a condition for the proponent to contact the ministry prior to decommissioning of the facility, to ensure that the lands can be restored to their original use.
Concerns related to stray voltage
MOE staff have been advised by the Ministry of Energy that electrical phenomena such as stray voltage occur on all electricity distribution systems, and are not unique to systems located near wind generators. The Ministry of Energy also advises that none of these phenomena have been identified by Health Canada as hazardous to humans.
The applicant will ensure that the project is built and maintained according to the standards in place as prescribed by the Distribution System Code and the Electrical Safety Authority
The project is not proposing to connect to the local distribution system that serves barns and houses in the area, so it will not directly impact that service. However, the applicant will continue to work closely with Hydro One to mitigate any potential impact on local distribution customers should a situation arise.
Support for the project
Comments noted and considered.
Out of scope comments
A number of comments were received that were not project specific. As they did not pertain to this project, MOE staff did not consider these comments in the decision making process.
Note – This is the end of the decision notice. Please disregard the “Leave to Appeal Provisions” section below.