Municipal group focused on wind turbines wants reports on breakage and failures

·3 min read

Correction: Setback from dwellings is 550 metres, corrected from 50 metres

A municipal coalition is arguing that municipalities should get reports on when and how failures of wind turbines, such as broken blades, hubs or towers, occur.

The Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group is getting ready to rouse support across the province on the issue.

Tom Allwood, a Grey Highlands councillor, shared a list of the information about these incidents that would be required at its meeting on Jan. 5. Grey Highlands decided to forward the matter to committee of the whole for a longer discussion.

Mr. Allwood made reference to the June 30, 2020 incident of a wind turbine blade breaking off at Skyway 8, a Capstone project just southwest of Dundalk on Grey Road 8.

When the Herald recently asked for an update on the company’s investigation into that blade failure, Megan Hunter, a Capstone corporate communications manager, replied that the investigation is still underway, but findings on the cause are expected early in the new year.

A press release by the company at the time noted that the turbine affected had a pilot device attached at the hub to increase the turbine’s efficiency. The device, being developed in Canada, is called a Power Cone. It has been tested in tidal turbines, as well.

“The turbine at Skyway 8 was recommissioned without the Power Cone in October, and we have no plans for future tests the Power Cone at any of our facilities at this time,” Ms Hunter wrote last week.

At the time of the turbine damage, Ms Hunter told the Herald/Advance that all the turbines at the Skyway 8 facility “were taken offline, inspected, and confirmed to have no increased risk before being returned to service. “

Mr. Allwood is the new chair for the multi-municipal wind turbine group, which works on issues associated with the wind turbines on behalf of municipalities where wind projects are located. These include safety, as well as health effects on those living close to the turbines, he said in an interview.

Mr. Allwood also mentioned ice throw from the blades, saying that on Road 63 south of Grey Rd. 4 in Grey Highlands, there are warning signs of possible ice throw onto the road.

Turbines are allowed to be located as close as the blade length plus 10 metres from roads and lot lines, and 550 metres from the centre of a dwelling or institutional building.

The Skyway 8 blade failure in Southgate is one of 10 events that have put part or whole wind turbines on the ground, many at distances greater than the setback, says the group’s report about its proposed protocol.

The protocol is going to be sent out to municipalities across Ontario in the next month or two, who can then pass resolution to adopt or support them and forward those motions on to the provincial ministry, Mr. Allwood said.

The points include requirements to demonstrate ongoing safety. Where components hit the ground at a distance greater than the provincial setback requirement, the operator would be required to report both to the municipality and provincial agencies within 24 hours.

A later report detailing the cause and actions taken would be needed before that turbine and any others of the same type in the project could be restarted.

Municipalities would then share those reports with residents.

The protocol proposes that operators anywhere in the province would have to demonstrate they have reviewed such reports from elsewhere in Ontario, and applied any lessons learned.

If all the facts were known, Coun. Allwood suggested that setbacks could be re-examined in light of the reports.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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